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Also by George Ortega 

Climate Rescue Capitalism 

Free Will: Its Refutation, Societal Cost 
and Role in Climate Change Denial 

Exploring the Illusion of Free Will, Second Edition 




FREE WILL - MOVING 
BEYOND THE ILLUSION 

SCREEENPLAY FOR A DOCUMENTARY 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


A Happier World 
White Plains, New York 



Copyright © 2018 by George Ortega. 
All rights reserved. 


Published in 

The United States of America in 2018 
for A Happier World, White Plains, New York 
by CreateSpace 

Cover photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash 
Cover design by George Ortega 

1098765432 
Free Will and Determinism 
George Ortega 1957 

ISBN-13: 978-1721914999 
ISBN-10:1721914994 



Dedication 


For my maternal grandmother, Augusta 
(Freemen) Mendez, (Daughter of Isaac and 
Esther Friedman) and aunt, Elaine Mendez, and 
my parents, Guillermo and Jeane, may they rest 
in peace, who by bringing me up to love 
everyone - meaning everyone - led me to, at an 
early age, understand the causal nature of 
human will. 


Acknowledgement 


Special thanks to James B. Miles, author of The 
Free Will Delusion: How We Settled for the Illusion 
of Morality, without whose support over the 
course of many months this screenplay would 
not have been written. 




FREE WILL 

MOVING BEYOND 
THE ILLUSION 

SCEENPLAY FOR A DOCUMENTARY 




Table of Contents 


The Pitch 1 

Potential Producer-Financers 11 
Contact Information 12 
The Film Proposal 13 

Logline 13 
Topic Summary 13 
Tone of the Film 14 
Project Description 14 
The Timing is Right 15 
Audience Appeal 16 

Financer/Producer's Investment and Benefits 16 
Financer/Producer's Control 16 
Synopsis 17 

My Experience with the Topic 20 
The Concept-Narration Screenplay 21 

Introductory Vignettes: Human Will 
Belief in Our Lives 22 



xii 


Survey of Past Revolutions in Human Thinking 23 

"A Bigger Revolution in Our Thinking 
than Einstein..26 

Modern Thinkers Echo and Expand on 
the Searle Quote 27 

Inviting a Partnership with the Audience 27 

Defining Free Will; History, Moral Implications and 
Academic Definitions 28 

Establishing Authority in Refuting Free Will 30 

The Personal Destructiveness of Free Will 
Belief: Two Cases 32 

Inviting Audiences to, through Personal Experience, 
Refute Free Will 33 

Inviting Audiences' Personal Moral Experience 
to Refute Free Will 35 

Establishing Society's Idiomatic Rejection of Free Will 37 

Calming Audiences' Fears about Abandoning 
Free Will Belief 39 

How Universal Causality Refutes Free Will 40 

How Universal Acausality Refutes Free Will 45 

How Nature and Nurture Refute Free Will 47 

How Our Biological and Psychological Drives 
Refute Free Will 50 

How Our Unconscious Mind Refutes Free Will 53 

How Psychology Experiments Challenge Free Will 55 

How Tibet and Replications Refute Free Will 58 

How Our Religions Refute Free Will 60 

Review of the Free Will Refutations 66 



Accepting that Our Will is Not Free 68 
Pre- and Post-Free Will Belief Vignettes 70 
Blame 71 
Guilt 74 
Arrogance 77 
Low Self Esteem 80 

Free Will Defenders' Positions, and the 
Film's Responses 83 

What Free Will Defenders Fear 85 

Why Fears about Overcoming Free Will 
Belief are Unfounded 88 

The Social and Economic Impact of Our 
Belief in Free Will 90 

Religion 91 
Criminal Justice 93 
Poverty and Terrorism 94 
Mass Media 96 
Education 96 
Depression and Anxiety 97 
Divorce 98 
LGBT 98 

Review of Major Themes 99 

The Benefits of a Post-Free Will World 101 

Finale 105 




FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


1 


The Pitch 

This book is about prochicing a film that will lead to a much 
happier world. It's also about leading the biggest scientific 
revolution in human thinking our world has ever known, a 
revolution that will be remembered for hundreds - indeed 
thousands - of years. 

If you're a hectomillionaire or billionaire with the as yet 
unfulfilled ambition to make your mark on human history in a 
way that does everyone a world of good, and ensures that 
you'll be remembered and honored hundreds of years from 
now, this book is for you. If you already understand that free 
will is an illusion, know such a person, and would like to earn 
what should amount to several hundred thousand dollars by 
successfully pitching them the film, this book is also for you. If 
you don't yet know this very rich person but are especially 
persuasive, and would like to earn that commission by finding 
and successfully pitching them the film, this book is also for 
you. Finally, if you're a documentary film producer or 



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GEORGE ORTEGA 


director who knows how to get a $5 million-budgeted, 
theatrical-release, feature film financed, this book is also for 
you. Now that you know who you are, at least from my 
perspective, here's the pitch. 

Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein are 
arguably our modem world's top scientific minds, at least as 
ranked by their influence on human thought. The only other 
scientist I would suggest belongs in this same elite class is 
Isaac Newton, who through his discoveries and innovation 
virtually single-handedly invented modern physics. What 
Darwin, Freud and Einstein, however, have in common, 
arrived at from the distinctly different scientific disciplines of 
biology, psychology and physics respectively, is that they each 
soundly rejected the notion that we human beings have a free 
will. 

Actually, his classical physics being fundamentally grounded 
in a law of cause and effect that categorically prohibits free 
will, and having written "For we adore him as his servants; 
and a God without dominion, providence, and final causes, is 
nothing else but Fate and Nature." - Fate being free will's 
negation - Newton apparently also rejected the notion. But 
let's for now set aside both Newton and the common 
misapprehension that may have just come to the mind of 
some readers, suggesting that quantum mechanics is not 
fundamentally as completely governed by this causal law as is 
Newton's classical mechanics. 

Although no one has yet proposed a convincing, let alone 
cogent, mechanism by which a human being can ever decide 
or do anything in a way that circumvents the influence - 
indeed, the compulsion - of governing factors like the 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


3 


physical laws of the universe and our combined genetic and 
environmental programming, one argument put forth to 
explain how a free will is supposed to work is the notion that 
our decisions are probabilistic. 

How that claim, quite similar in formulation to the suggestion 
that human decisions occur randomly, offers any coherent 
rational defence of free will is yet to be explained. But if we 
invoke probabilities in the more conventional sense connoting 
likelihood, free will believers are confronted with the 
following problem. How probable, or likely, is it that our three 
top scientific minds, using evidence and arguments derived 
from three distinct scientific disciplines, were wrong in 
considering free will an illusion, and that modern 
philosophers and scientists of nowhere near their stature and 
manifest intelligence who disagree with them are right? 

But this documentary goes far beyond invoking the highest 
scientific authority and strong likelihood in explaining to the 
world exactly why free will does not exist. A major advantage 
the free will question enjoys over other scientific questions 
like whether or not our climate crisis is predominantly 
anthropogenic - whose answers often demand specialized 
scientific data and understanding - is that refuting free will 
can also be relatively easily accomplished by simply 
subjecting the notion to the basic logical analysis that 
undergirds all science. 

In fact one of this screenplay's strengths is that it invites 
audiences to, by testing their everyday experiences against a 
basic logic requiring neither advanced education nor scientific 
knowledge, discover for themselves why they, and by 
extension everyone else, lack a free will. But let's focus on why 



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GEORGE ORTEGA 


the person who produces this film can expect to, following its 
release, be publicly and scientifically acknowledged as the 
person who bankrolled, or made happen, the greatest 
revolution in human thinking our world has ever known. 

To understand why he or she will assuredly gain historic 
acclaim for leading this greatest of all revolutions in human 
thought, take pause to appreciate the ubiquitous state of 
confusion - indeed delusion - that currently grips us. Today, 
virtually all of our world's societal institutions operate by, and 
promote, the view that what we humans think, feel, say and 
do is fundamentally up to us. The reality however, as our 
experience, logic and best science inform us, is that absolutely 
nothing we humans have ever thought, felt, said or done has 
even in the slightest extent, or to the smallest degree, been up 
to us. 

Our world believes that through a mysterious, unexplained 
and amorphous attribute we have come to call free will, we 
humans can somehow miraculously circumvent, or nullify, 
what our personal experience, the universal laws of nature, 
and our hard-wired genetic and environmental programming 
time and again inform us is actually happening. That we all, in 
practice, regularly fail to think, feel, say and do what we'd 
prefer is, on its own, evidence enough to convince any 
intellect uncorrupted by an egoistic need to author that we are 
not, in fact, free to decide as we might prefer. 

But the belief in free will is not only absolutely mistaken, it is 
quite literally insane. We encounter a powerful irony when we 
consult our world's generally accepted authority on what's 
sane and insane, modern psychiatry. Under the heading 
"Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders," 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


5 


and sLibheading "Delusions," of its most recent edition 
detailing what it has determined rises to the level of 
psychosis, psychiatry's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of 
Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, or DSM-5, asserts that "Delusions 
that express a loss of control over mind or body are generally 
considered to be bizarre; these include the belief that...one's 
body or actions are being acted on or manipulated by some 
outside force (delusions of control)." 

By this psychiatry strays far beyond the bounds of medicine. It 
invades the scientific disciplines of physics, biology, and 
psychology to implicitly assert that we can escape 
determining factors, or "forces," that operate completely 
outside of our control, like the physical laws of nature, our 
biological drives, and our unconscious mind. 

What psychiatry is essentially claiming is that not only were 
our world's top three minds wrong in considering free will an 
illusion, they were quite insane in having done so. In fact, 
according to the DSM-5, any scientist among today's majority 
of neuroscientists who invokes the latest theory and data to 
maintain a persistent commitment to rejecting free will is, in 
effect, exhibiting a defining symptom of psychosis. Of course 
psychiatry does grant neuroscientists the same exemption 
enjoyed by millions of people who believe our Earth is less 
than six thousand years old; if sufficient numbers hold a 
certain belief, regardless of how irrational or unscientific it is, 
and this belief doesn't appear to negatively impact their daily 
functioning, they thereby escape this diagnosis of delusional 
psychosis. 

The screenplay also confronts the widespread confusion and 
harm our world's other institutions like religion and criminal 



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GEORGE ORTEGA 


justice perpetuate by promoting free will as an explanation for 
human behavior. The film's financer would not only be doing 
the world a world of good by setting in motion an historic 
global initiative that would over several decades rescue our 
world from the bizarre and insidiously harmful belief in free 
will. He or she would, as a result, earn unprecedented 
scientific acclaim for having bankrolled this greatest 
revolution in human thinking to date. 

You may have noticed that I've several times referred to our 
world evolving beyond the belief in free will as our greatest 
revolution in human thinking. Although I've personally held 
the view for many years. I'm not alone in this. Before releasing 
her 2005 book. Conversations on Consciousness, free will- 
refuting psychologist Susan Blackmore asked one of our most 
renowned philosophers, John Searle, what it would mean for 
our world to understand and accept that free will is an 
illusion. His response was that it "would be a bigger 
revolution in our thinking than Einstein, or Copernicus, or 
Newton, or Galileo, or Darwin - it would alter our whole 
conception of our relation with the universe." 

My having spent the last eight years leading a movement to 
popularise the refutation of free will, one might suspect that, 
coming from me, such a grand assertion may perhaps be 
somewhat biased. What's especially noteworthy, and 
trustworthy, about Searle holding this same assessment is that 
he considers himself an agnostic on whether or not free will is 
an illusion, and actually leans toward defending the notion. 

And before you mistakenly place your hope on the fact that, 
"aha, a top philosopher defends free will," consider that as 
well-respected as Searle is, ranking 13th among modern world 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


7 


philosophers, he in no way approaches the stature and 
ranking in science of Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud and 
Albert Einstein, our world's top minds who were, not 
incidentally, also quite adept at philosophizing about the 
sciences. 

So, the very rich person who is fortunate enough to possess 
the intellect, insight and vision to produce - again, especially 
meaning finance - this film would not only be helping our 
world take a giant leap toward evolving beyond the 
completely mistaken and harmful belief in free will, he or she 
would also be achieving something of the very highest 
scientific and historical significance and influence. Okay, so 
our producer-financer will go down in history in a very big 
way, but let's take a brief look at all of the good he or she 
would accomplish in the process. 

A major problem with the belief in free will is that it causes 
unfair - indeed immoral - blame. This blame too often leads 
to anger, then hostility and conflict, and finally, needless pain 
and fear. This relational devolution affects not only our 
personal lives, but our societal institutions as well. Let's see 
how it affects our daily interactions. 

Imagine yourself at a restaurant with four friends. Across the 
room sits a man who starts voicing obscenities so loudly that 
everyone takes notice. Your friends are visibly disturbed, and 
begin sharing vicious comments about him. You, however, do 
not join them in this anger and aggression. Why not? Well, 
you happen to know the man, and also know that he suffers 
from Tourette syndrome, an illness that can cause a person to 
do exactly what the man was doing. Because you know this, 
you quite understandably don't blame him for either having 



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GEORGE ORTEGA 


the illness or behaving like someone under its compulsion. 

Now imagine a world where everyone understands that free 
will is an illusion, and interacts with everyone else according 
to that understanding. Sure, the man in the restaurant may be 
asked to leave, but without the belief in free will he would be 
viewed and confronted with respect and compassion. When 
we imagine a world where no one any longer believes in free 
will, we're imagining a world where no one any longer 
blames anyone for anything. Even the prospect would appear 
patently irrational. Our film's producer will have financed the 
first giant step toward this far better world. 

Let's briefly look at a few other instances where believing in 
free will causes us to unfairly blame and punish individuals 
for doing what is essentially beyond their control. A gay man 
is denied entry to a hospital room where his spouse lies ill 
because only family members are allowed this right, and the 
hospital happens to be in a country that doesn't recognize gay 
marriage. A five-year-old is taught by his church's cleric that if 
he doesn't of a free will believe that Jesus is God, he will burn 
in hell for all of eternity. He lives his entire adult life in 
constant fear of leaving that church and its beliefs. A 
philanthropist refuses to help a poor woman because he 
believes she freely chose her poverty, and therefore doesn't 
deserve his, or anyone else's, help. To him, it doesn't matter 
that she became poor because her parents died while she was 
just an infant, and she, as a result, never learned how to make 
her way in the world. 

These are just a few of the countless ways that believing in 
free will harms us today, and the screenplay details many 
positive changes, like our overcoming guilt, arrogance and 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


9 


low self-esteem, that we can expect as ovir world evolves 
beyond the belief. Now that we understand the good this 
documentary can do, let's see why many millions of people 
would line up in theaters around the world to watch it. 

First, let's fully appreciate that the film, as its trailer would 
show, is telling people who believe that virtually everything 
they do is up to them that absolutely nothing they do is ever 
up to them. And the film doesn't equivocate on this, 
suggesting that perhaps what they do may in some yet 
unexplained way be up to them. Expressing the highest 
degree of certainty, and presenting numerous experiential, 
logical and scientific arguments, it explains to audiences why 
free will is categorically and absolutely impossible. Wouldn't 
you think that many millions of people would want to witness 
for themselves this film that is challenging the very nature of 
who we all are as human beings? 

Consider the several billion people on the planet who believe 
in free will because that's what their religion teaches. Our 
documentary informs them of sects and denominations within 
the world's five major religions that have rejected free will, 
preferring to understand that because God is omnipotent, or 
all-powerful, what he wants to happen must happen, and 
what he doesn't want to happen, cannot possibly happen. Our 
film informs Christians that even the Apostle Paul powerfully 
argued against free will in his Letter to the Romans. Wouldn't 
you expect that many millions of those religious adherents 
would want to know who among them believes that free will 
does not exist, and why they hold the belief? 

Now think about the many high school and college students 
throughout the world. Imagine if before the film is released, as 



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GEORGE ORTEGA 


part of our marketing strategy, we provide every high school 
and college in the world a free, internet-downloadable, half- 
hour teaser version. Wouldn't you think a great many teachers 
would show their students that teaser, and that many of the 
students who watched it would then absolutely need to see 
the full-length feature version of this revolutionary film 
presenting the most amazing truth they've ever encountered? 
And imagine the free publicity that would be generated when 
some school systems from America's Bible Belt refuse to show 
their students the teaser. The media worldwide would cover 
the public's reaction to this film as a modem day equivalent of 
the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial where Clarence Darrow 
successfully defended evolution. 

Because this documentary is teaching audiences something 
that would, in effect, turn our world upside down - well, 
more accurately, right-side up again - wouldn't you think that 
in addition to all of the public and scientific acclaim the film's 
financer would receive, he or she would also at least double or 
triple their investment of $5 million? The hectomillionaire or 
billionaire financing this film will, indeed, feel very fortunate 
to have been the one to do so. 

And consider the bragging rights he or she would enjoy, being 
acknowledged for influencing our world more profoundly 
than have personalities like (insert any name you'd like here, 
including Bill Gates, Jesus and the Buddha). On a personal 
level, that's what leading this biggest revolution in human 
thinking is about. Of course I, as the author of this pitch, 
proposal and screenplay, would also receive this acclaim... 
and our knowing that neither of us did this of a free will 
would preserve our humility. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


11 


Potential Producer-Financers 

To get us started, here are two lists of potential producer- 
financers culled from various lists of rich philanthropists. The 
second presents philanthropist couples, in case a woman 
would like to lead this revolution in human thinking destined 
to dwarf all previous ones led by men. If you happen to be 
listed, know anyone listed, or perhaps know someone who 
knows anyone listed, this could be your opportunity of a 
lifetime. 

Paul Allen, Steve Ballmer, Stehen Bechtel, Jeff Bezos, Miguel 
Bezos, Len Blavatnick, Michael Bloomberg, Donald Bren, 
Sergey Brin, Donald Broan, Warren Buffett, Charles Butt, 
Mark Cuban, Ray Dallo, Larry Ellison, Fred Eychaner, Charles 
Feeney, Frank Ferguson, Mark Gallogly, David Geffen, David 
Gelbaum, Ken Griffin, Ma Huateng, Mark Heising, Dietmar 
Hopp, George Kaiser, Li- Ka-shing, Jack Ma, Seth MacFarlane, 
Yuri Milner, Elon Musk, Francoise Meyers, Pierre Omidyar, 
Amancio Ortega, Larry Page, Sean Parker, Azim Premji, 
Roxanne Quinby, Julian Robertson, Richard Rosenthal, Steven 
Ross, Herbert Sandler, Stephen Schwartsman, Lynn 
Shusterman, Deborah Simon, Liz Simons, Jeffrey Skoll, Carlos 
Slim, Alexander Soros, George Soros, Aaron Sosnick, Thomas 
Steyer, Jon Stryker, Pat Stryker, Donald Sussman, Dale Taylor, 
David Trone, Earnest Tschannen, Ted Turner, Leslie Williams, 
Robert Wilson, Oprah Winfrey, Hansjoerg Wyss, Mark 
Zuckerberg. 

Daniel and Ewa Abraham, William and Karen Ackman, John 
and Laura Arnold, Reinier and Nancy Beeuwkes, Marc and 
Lynne Benloff, Eli and Edythe Broad, Steve and Alexandra 
Cohen, Michael and Susan Dell, Paul and Joanne Egerman, 



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GEORGE ORTEGA 


Amy and Cary Fowler, Bill and Melinda Gates, Henry and 
Carol Goldberg, Amos and Barbara Hostetter, Jon and Karen 
Huntsman, Irwin and Joan Jacobs, Bruce and Martha Karsh, 
Richard and Nancy Kinder, Henry and Marsha Laufer 
Laurence and Aberly Lebowitz, Bernard and Bill Marcus, 
George and Judith Marcus, Gordon and Betty Moore, Dustin 
and Cari Moskovitz, Trevor and Jan Rees-Jones, Steward and 
Lynda Resnick, Chaim and Cheryl Saban, Bernard and Irene 
Schwartz, David and Beth Shaw, James and Marilyn Simons, 
Paul and Cynthia Skjodt, Doug and Kris Tompkins. 


Contact Information 


If you're interested in making the film, or are in touch with a 
potential producer-financer, call me at 914-349-7381. Leave a 
message with your name, location, phone number and email 
address, and we'll talk. 

Well, that's the pitch. I hope you're sold. The film proposal 
that follows describes the project in more detail, and includes 
a summary of the screenplay. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


13 


The Film Proposal 


Logline 

Three of our greatest minds, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud 
and Albert Einstein, each understood that human free will 
does not exist. This documentary film explains to the world 
why they are right, and why our knowing this matters 
profoundly. 


Topic Summary 

Free will is the belief that what we humans do is up to us, and 
that nothing outside of our control makes us act as we do. The 
notion has been a foundation of our global civilization for 
millennia. The problem, however, is that free will is an 
illusion. Through several explanations designed to be readily 
understandable by viewers of average intelligence, this 



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GEORGE ORTEGA 


documentary explains not only why we humans do not have a 
free will, but also how we can create a better world by 
evolving beyond the belief. Such an accomplishment would be 
no small matter. Eminent American philosopher, John Searle, 
has said that for our world to acknowledge free will to be an 
illusion: 

would be a bigger revolution in our thinking than 
Einstein, or Copernicus, or Newton, or Galileo, or 
Darwin — it would alter our whole conception of our 
relation with the universe. 

The film is about launching and leading this revolution. 


Tone of the Film 

Although accepting our position will be a major challenge to 
some, the film's tone is decidedly positive and optimistic. It is 
designed to leave viewers astounded, and feeling that they 
have gained something of great value. 


Project Description 

This documentary is intended for world-wide theatrical 
release as a major motion picture. Accompanying this 
proposal is a Concept and Narration Screenplay crafted to guide 
the producer, director and writers through the film's major 
points, and to suggest an order for their presentation, while 
also granting the production team maximum creative 
freedom. Throughout development, production and 
marketing, I will remain available as a consultant. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


15 


The Timing is Right 

For centuries, the question of whether we humans have a free 
will languished in obscurity within academia. That has 
recently changed. 

• In April, 2011, the major British weekly. New Scientist, 
became our world's first magazine to publish a cover 
story refuting free will with a piece titled "Free Will: 
The Illusion We Can't Live Without." 

• About a year later, in May, 2012, the prestigious 
American science bi-monthly. Scientific American - 
Mind, ran its own cover story exposing free will titled 
"How Neuroscience and Physics Dictate Your 'Free' 
Will." 

• Three years later, in May, 2015, the British Broadcasting 
Corporation, (BBC) became the third major magazine to 
devote a cover story to challenging free will with a 
piece titled "Free Will: The Greatest Illusion?" in its 
monthly magazine, BBC Focus._ 

• And almost a year later, in March, 2016, Philosophy Now 
became the world's first philosophy magazine to 
challenge the notion of free will on its cover with the 
piece, "Free Will: Are We Free to Choose?" 

The timing is now ideal for a major theatrical-release 
documentary film that unambiguously refutes free will, and 
explains to world-wide audiences the scientific, historic and 
social significance of this major development. 



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GEORGE ORTEGA 


Audience Appeal 

Because the belief in free will is so widespread, the global 
public should be strongly intrigued by our challenge to the 
notion. The film should spark a deep and impassioned 
conversation throughout every region of the world. Political 
progressives working on issues like civil rights, equality, 
poverty, discrimination, and criminal justice reform should 
welcome the film. While appreciating the film's scientific 
importance. Conservatives who tend to "blame the victim" 
may find it disconcerting. Religious organizations will find 
that the film's central message challenges one of their core 
beliefs, however the historic evidence we present should 
motivate adherents to see for themselves why many among 
their ranks have rejected the idea of a human free will. 


Financer/Producer's Investment and Benefits 

As the financer/producer, in addition to the widespread 
public and professional acclaim you would garner for having 
made this major scientific revolution happen, you would earn 
an estimated return of at least 200 percent on your investment 
of approximately $3 million to make the film, and no more 
than $2 million to market and distribute it world-wide. 


Financer/Producer's Control 

You would have full control over the project, excluding the 
following conditions: 

1. The film is to be unequivocal about free will being an 
illusion. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


17 


2. The film is to be positive and optimistic. 

3. The film must premiere within three years of our 
written contract. 

4. I am to receive the following, or equivalent, credits: 
Created by; Produced by; Concept and Narration 
Screenplay by; Key Consultant. 

Those conditions accepted, I welcome your full involvement 
in, and ideas about, the project. 


Synopsis 

The film begins with a series of dramatic scenes intended to 
help audiences who are not accustomed to watching 
documentaries feel more comfortable with the format. The 
film next surveys past revolutions in human thinking as a 
lead-in to Searle and top academic authorities voicing the 
position that exposing free will as an illusion would probably 
be the greatest of these to date. At this point, the film's title, 
"Free Will: Moving Beyond the Illusion" and opening credits 
appear. We then invite the audience to take an active role in 
launching and leading this historic revolution. 

In the next sequences, academic philosophers and 
psychologists define free will, and describe what the debate 
has been about for the last two millennia. We follow up with 
quotes by leading scientists Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, 
and Albert Einstein that establish the highest authority for the 
film's position that free will is an illusion. Leading modern 
academics then explain in greater detail why humans never 
choose anything freely. The audience now has a clear 
understanding of what the film is about. We then shift back to 



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GEORGE ORTEGA 


dramatic vignettes to explain how our belief in free will harms 
us. At this point, the film's major themes have all been 
introduced. 

We now lead viewers through the logic of why we don't have 
a free will by first asking them to reflect on their personal 
experiences. We next present three idiomatic expressions 
including "don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in 
his shoes" to show that, as a society, we already implicitly 
understand that what we humans do is not actually up to us. 
Anticipating that audiences are now feeling uncomfortable 
with the increasing clarity and strength of this revelation, we 
calm their minds by briefly explaining why this truth need not 
prevent them from their fully enjoying their lives. 

We then present the hard scientific evidence for why free will 
is impossible, beginning with an explanation of the physical 
law of cause and effect, and how it relates to human actions. 
In order to best communicate the material, we use graphics 
extensively in these sequences. Presenting the quantum 
mechanics-based contention that perhaps some aspects of our 
world happen in an indeterministic, or uncaused, manner, we 
then proceed to explain why the prospect of uncaused events 
offers no help in rescuing the notion of free will. 

The film next turns to biology to explain how nature and 
nurture, both separately and in tandem, also render human 
free will impossible, and how our instinctual drives support 
this conclusion. Following sequences present the audience 
with a psychological explanation of why thoughts we 
ordinarily attribute to a conscious will are actually initiated at 
the level of our unconscious, providing more scientific 
evidence that a human free will is simply impossible. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


19 


Having described the logic and theory that refute free will, we 
now strengthen our position with hard empirical evidence 
from psychology experiments. We then follow up with even 
stronger empirical data from neuroscience experiments 
showing that our thoughts originate in our unconscious rather 
than through a conscious free will. 

Because 90 percent of Americans believe in God, or a higher 
power, we next address the free will question from a religious 
perspective. The film provides historical evidence that major 
sects within our five major world religions, Hinduism, 
Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have rejected free 
will in favor of an all-powerful, all-knowing God and the 
principle of cause and effect. 

The film next briefly reviews the personal, philosophical, 
scientific and religious refutations of free will presented thus 
far, and reiterates why our belief in free will harms us both as 
individuals and as a global society. We now provide filmgoers 
with an extended transition from our documentary format 
through a series of comparative vignettes that show the many 
ways our belief in free will harms us, and how our evolving 
beyond the belief allows us to overcome this harm. 

Confident that the audience now empathizes with the harm 
our belief in free will causes, we next explore why some 
philosophers and scientists continue to defend free will, and 
why the concerns underlying these defenses are misguided 
and unfounded. 

In greater detail, we then describe how our free will belief 
corrupts our global religions, law, economics, social progress, 
and public health. After one last time briefly revisiting the 



20 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


film's major themes, we present an optimistic vision of our 
world evolving beyond the belief in free will. The film now 
offers the audience a more complete and detailed invitation to 
play an important role in launching and leading this great 
revolution. It ends with a reprise of the past great revolutions 
in human thinking, followed by the reiteration that our world 
understanding and acknowledging free will to be an illusion 
is very likely the greatest revolution in human thinking that 
our world has yet undergone. 


My Experience with the Topic 

While this is my first film, since 2010 I have produced, written 
and hosted over 300 half-hour episodes on the topic of free 
will for two televisions series, including a live call-in show on 
Manhattan's MNN. I've published two books refuting free 
will, and describing the problems we can overcome as our 
world evolves beyond the notion. I've also moderated over 
100 public discussions in Manhattan, and hosted over 180 
podcast episodes, on the topic. I continue to maintain a 
website and a blog dedicated to popularizing the refutation of 
free will. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


21 


The Concept-Narration Screenplay 


Screenplay Font and Formatting Key 

The screenplay text is presented using the following fonts and 
formatting: 

• Section Introductions: Palatino Linotype - italics 

• Sequence Descriptions and Directives: [Palatino 
Linotype - bold, bracketed] 

• Narration: Palatino Linotype 



22 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


Introductory Vignettes: Human Will Belief in Our Lives 

Showing that our view of human will determines how we treat 
ourselves and others, the following introductory vignettes intend to 
help movie-goers who are not accustomed to watching 
documentaries feel more at home. Later in the film, we return to 
them as a way of showing how our personal relationships can 
improve as our world overcomes the belief in free will. 

[1. A little league baseball field scoreboard shows the 
batter's team is down by a run in the bottom of the ninth, 
with a runner at second base, two outs, and the batter at full 
count 3-2. The nine-year-old girl at the plate hits a home run, 
and is carried off the field by her teammates.] 

[2. A 12-year-old obese boy is ridiculed and bullied by his 
peers because of his weight.] 

[3. A woman in her 40s is shown at a podium being handed a 
plaque in recognition of a great scientific achievement.] 

[4. An alcoholic man who is about to commit suicide is 
writing a suicide note. We hear his words as he writes "My 
dear wife and children, I am so sorry about all of the pain 
I've caused you with my drinking. What I have done to our 
family is unforgivable, and I no longer deserve to live. I will 
always love you."] 

[5. A man hovers over his wife, who is cowering on a sofa. 
He yells at her, "This is your fault. You are to blame for all 
of this! You knew what you had to do, but you didn't do it 
because you are selfish, and don't care!"] 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


23 


Survey of Past Revolutions in Human Thinking 

The tone of these sequences is epic, reflecting the importance of the 
revolutions, and of this film. Full orchestral music rich in powerful, 
dynamic elements evoke and sustain this grand tone throughout. 
The sequences serve as a lead-in to the upcoming quote by 
philosopher John Searle that represents one of the film's central 
themes. 

A revolution in human thinking is something that, usually in 
the most profound of ways, changes how we view our world. 
It often completely upends what we had thought was true, 
and replaces it with what is actually true. It always begins 
with a sense of wonder. 

Long before recorded history began, our ancestors wondered 
about our Sun and Moon and about the other lights in the 
night sky that we now call stars. They wondered about the 
clouds that bring life-sustaining rain, and about strange 
phenomena like thunder and lightning, and furious gusts of 
wind. 

Turning this awakened curiosity toward themselves and other 
living beings, they wondered about the mysteries of life and 
death. With this, the revolution in human thinking we call 
spirituality began. Spirituality was our ancestors' first attempt 
to understand ourselves and our relation to the world, and it 
evolved into the religious traditions we follow today. 

As they learned to use fire and make tools, those early 
humans embarked on that next major revolution in human 
thinking that we today call science. Science provided us with a 
vastly more accurate way of understanding our world. 



24 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


Since then, there have been several other major revolutions in 
human thinking. 

The scientific diagnosis and treatment of injuries and illnesses 
that we today call medicine had already begun by about 2,600 
B.C.E. when the Egyptian scholar and priest, Imhotep, became 
the world's first physician known to us by name. 

The Greek philosopher and mathematician, Pythagoras, 
spearheaded the next big revolution in human thought 2,100 
years later at around 500 B.C.E. with his discovery that our 
world is not flat; it is actually a sphere. One can scarcely 
imagine the deep confusion this new truth brought to the 
people of that time. 

About two thousand years later, in 1543, Polish astronomer 
and mathematician, Nicolaus Copernicus, corrected our belief 
that the Earth is at the center of everything with the humbling 
explanation that our planet, and the other known planets, all 
revolve around our Sun. 

In 1687, English physicist and mathematician. Sir Isaac 
Newton, formulated his laws of motion and of gravitation to 
solve the mystery of why those of us living at the bottom of 
our spherical planet don't fall off, and in the process launched 
our era of modem physics. 

In 1859, another English scientist, Charles Darwin, launched 
the next major revolution in human thought with his theory of 
evolution, explaining that we humans descended from ape¬ 
like creatures, who in turn descended from treeshrew-like 
animals, who had descended from single-celled organisms. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


25 


A half-century later, in the early 1900s, the German physicist. 
Max Planck, Austrian physicists, Albert Einstein and Erwin 
Schrodinger, and others, introduced us to the next world¬ 
changing revolution in human thinking; quantum mechanics. 
We learned that our world is vastly more strange than we 
imagined. For example, because of what's called quantum 
entanglement, we discovered that a particle at one end of our 
universe can communicate with its entangled partner at the 
opposite end of our universe at a speed thousands of times 
faster than the speed of light. 

Also in the early 1900s, Einstein's theories of special and 
general relativity comprised the next big revolution in human 
thought. Completely upending our understanding of reality, 
he showed that space and time are actually a single entity that 
is curved by objects like our Earth, Sun and Moon. Einstein 
also taught us that what seems like the past to one observer is 
actually the future to a second observer. And, through his 
famous equation, E = me 2 , he showed us that matter and 
energy are actually different manifestations of the same 
universal stuff. 

Also at the turn of the twentieth century, Austrian, 
neurologist, Sigmund Freud, unveiled to us the vast hidden 
realm of our mind that we call the unconscious, explaining 
how it, and not our conscious mind, determines so much of 
who we humans are. 

In 1927, Belgian Priest and physicist, George Lemaitre, posited 
that our universe began billions of years ago, and was smaller 
than an atom at an event we now call the Big Bang. 



26 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


And because of pioneering work by astronomers in the 1920s 
like the Dutch, Jan Oort, the American, Edwin Hubble and 
others, scientists today believe that the part of the universe we 
humans interact with comprises only about five percent of 
what's actually out there. 

These revolutions in human thought have dramatically 
transformed our understanding of who we are, and of the 
world we inhabit. But there is a much grander revolution in 
human thought that awaits; one that, as you watch this film, 
you are taking an important and active part in. This revolution 
is so significant in its ramifications that it dwarfs all previous 
revolutions in human thought. 


"A Bigger Revolution in Our Thinking than Einstein..." 

These sequences present one of the film's central themes, the biggest 
revolution in human thinking our world has ever known, and serve 
as a lead-in to the film's title and opening credits. 

Asked to weigh in on what it would mean if free will was 
acknowledged by our world to be just an illusion, American 
philosopher John Searle said that this would represent "a 
bigger revolution in our thinking than Einstein, or 
Copernicus, or Newton, or Galileo, or Darwin - it would alter 
our whole conception of our relation with the universe." 

So, what do modem scientists and philosophers say about our 
world coming to understand and accept that free will is - that 
it must be - an illusion, and that absolutely nothing we 
humans ever do is in any fundamental sense truly up to us? 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


27 


Modern Thinkers Echo and Expand on the Searle Quote 

In these sequences, interview clips of top modern thinkers from 
various academic disciplines confirm and expand on Searle's 
statement, reinforcing for the audience that his proposition, and the 
film's main message, enjoy a strong and widespread consensus 
among our world's most authoritative modern scholars. 


[Title of film - "FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE 
ILLUSION," and opening credits appear.] 


Inviting a Partnership with the Audience 

These sequences invite audiences to participate in, and take 
ownership of, the mission of leading our world to a historically new 
perspective on our shared reality, and on what it means to be human. 
The better audiences understand and accept their role in this grand 
endeavor, the more they will contribute to the film's success by 
enthusiastically recruiting friends and family to see the film, and 
join the mission. 

Our world is now on the cusp of this biggest revolution in 
human thought. By watching this film, each and every one of 
you is taking an active and very important role in launching 
the greatest revolution in human thought that our world has 
ever undergone. So let's now proceed with this historic work 
by exploring exactly what the idea of a free will means, and 
better understanding why such a notion is absolutely, and 
unequivocally, impossible. 



28 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


Defining Free Will; History, Moral Implications and 
Academic Definitions 

Before the film can effectively refute free will, the audience must be 
very clear about what the term means and implies. The following 
sequences provide these clarifications, and present clips of academics 
defining free will so that authority for our definition is established. 

We begin by defining exactly what we mean by the term free 
will. Tellingly, although the ancient Greeks had words for fate 
and destiny, they had no words for will or human will, and no 
term that meant free will. Back then, virtually everyone 
believed that the gods and the fates caused everything that 
happened to happen, including everything we human beings 
think, feel, say and do. 

Neither is the term free will found anywhere in the Bible's 
original text, written in Hebrew and Aramaic. In fact, Paul, 
writing in Romans L argues quite forcefully against the notion. 
At chapter seven, verse fifteen, he writes: "I don't understand 
myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can't. I 
do what I don't want to do - what I hate." 

The phrase free will wasn't actually coined until 380 A.D., 
long after the Bible was written, by Augustine, the bishop of 
Hippo. In his book De Libero Arbitrio, which is Latin for "on 
free will," Augustine introduced the term as an attempt to 
explain the existence of evil, and to justify God's punishment. 
He wrote that "Evil deeds are punished by the justice of God. 
They would not be punished justly if they had not been 
performed voluntarily." 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


29 


Our modern authoritative definition of free will is in 
agreement with Augustine in describing free will as what 
deems the human doer fundamentally responsible for his or 
her actions, and, therefore, fundamentally deserving of either 
punishment or praise. The Free will idea asserts that we are 
fundamentally responsible for our moral behavior, and, 
therefore, fundamentally deserve the rewards and 
punishments that what we do may bring. To better 
understand this, let's examine the notion of fundamental 
moral responsibility more closely, focusing on the key concept 
of fundamentality. 

Imagine that you are attending your best friend's wedding, 
and you happen to fall asleep during the ceremony. We would 
all probably agree that your doing this would generally be 
considered very rude, and morally wrong. 

But consider that the reason you dozed off was because prior 
to the service you stopped by a pharmacy to pick up a 
medicine your doctor prescribed to treat a back injury you 
were afraid might actually keep you from attending the 
wedding. And, unfortunately, because of a computer glitch, 
instead of giving you the right medication, your pharmacist 
gave you a powerful sedative designed to put you to sleep 
soon after taking it. 

Can we now still hold you fundamentally responsible and 
morally wrong for dozing off during the service? Of course 
not. You were, in fact, actually the victim, along with everyone 
else at the ceremony, of a very unfortunate fate. We'll return 
to this idea of fundamental moral responsibility later. For 
now, let's continue to explore what the term free will actually 


means. 



30 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


[Interview clips of several academic philosophers and 
psychologists present various accurate definitions of free 
will.] 


That's what we today think of when we talk about free will. 
That's what our dictionaries and encyclopedias refer to when 
they define, and describe, the concept of free will. 


Establishing Authority in Refuting Free Will 

In these sequences, we highlight that Charles Darwin, Sigmund 
Freud, and Albert Einstein, three widely respected scientists of the 
very highest rank, hold the film's position of rejecting the notion of 
free will. Through interviews with modern thinkers, this refutation 
is further strengthened. As the public often relies in part on the 
authority of experts to establish their personal positions on certain 
matters, these sequences are designed to prime audiences to better 
accept and appreciate the arguments against free will that the film 
subsequently presents. 

That's the free will he was refuting when Charles Darwin 
considered, "the general delusion about free will obvious," 

...and when Sigmund Freud said, "You nourish the notion of 
there being such a thing as psychical freedom, and you will 
not give it up. I am sorry to say I disagree with you 
categorically over this," 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


31 


.. .and when Albert Einstein said: 

I do not believe in free will. Schopenhauer's 
words: 'Man can do what he wants, but he 
cannot will what he wills,' accompany me in all 
situations throughout my life and reconcile me 
with the actions of others, even if they are rather 
painful to me. This awareness of the lack of free 
will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow 
men too seriously as acting and deciding 
individuals, and from losing my temper. 

What do some of today's notable scientists and philosophers 
have to say about this notion of free will? 


[Interview clips present various top scientists and 
philosophers refuting free will.] 


While Darwin, Freud, Einstein and many modern thinkers 
have understood that free will is an illusion, this 
understanding is not like climate change and other matters in 
science where their complexity demands that most of us rely 
on the authority of experts. 

Through the application of some fundamental principles of 
science and reason, virtually any of us can understand why 
our greatest thinkers rejected the notion of free will. But before 
we do that, let's explore the pervasive, widespread harm our 
belief in free will brings us. 



32 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


The Personal Destructiveness of Free Will Belief: Two Cases 

Strengthening the priming effect of previous sequences, these 
following narrated vignettes prepare audiences to side with the film's 
position by presenting two cases depicting how our belief in free will 
is far more destructive to individuals than most of us realize. 

Imagine a boy aged 16 named Charles, burdened by the 
constant bickering of his parents, who will within a few years 
sever their marital ties completely through an ugly divorce. 
Charles becomes increasingly unable to concentrate in school. 
His grades begin to fall. His friends, unable to understand the 
dour moods that too often consume Charles, abandon him. 
Eventually, completely discouraged, he drops out of school, 
but cannot find a job because of the lack of confidence he 
projects at job interviews. 

Charles blames himself for his plight, and this self- 
condemnation makes matters much worse. The painful guilt 
he feels grows stronger, and more destructive. He should have 
been able to do well in school, and not have dropped out, he 
tells himself. He should have been able to keep his friends. He 
should have been able to get a job. Finally after months of this 
self-blame, and of his parents now blaming him for these 
failures, Charles loses all hope. He attempts suicide, and 
spends the next year on medication and in therapy trying to 
put his life back together. 

Now imagine a woman named Sharon who is 35 years old, 
and has been seriously obese for as long as she can remember. 
She has never been out on a date. She has never even had a 
man ask her out. Wherever she goes, people ignore or avoid 
her. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


33 


She looks aroLind at the thinner people everywhere, and 
concludes that there must be something very wrong with her. 
More and more, she sees herself as a weak person with no 
willpower, and blames herself for this failing. 

At her job, her co-workers seldom let on directly about how 
they view her, but she occasionally hears them whispering 
cruel, shameful things about her. As the years pass, so does 
Sharon's lust for life. She was raised well. She doesn't start 
drinking or attempt suicide. She doesn't lash out at the people 
who routinely shame her. She just plods on, working day after 
day, quietly enduring a long, lonely and sad life. 

Our belief in free will causes far more suffering, and destroys 
many more lives, than we realize. Now that we better 
appreciate why our world overcoming this harmful belief 
represents much more than a revolution in human thought, 
let's begin to see for ourselves why the notion of a free will 
has absolutely no basis in reality. 


Inviting Audiences to, through Personal Experience, Refute 
Free Will 

The film's free will-refutation sequences begin strongly by inviting 
audiences to discover for themselves, using a simple test, why free 
will is an illusion. By first leading audiences through a personal 
rejection of free will, the film helps viewers better appreciate the 
more traditional logical and scientific refutations that follow. 

Let's now come to our own personal understanding of why a 
human free will is - why it must be - an illusion. 



34 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


Remember that free will means that our thoughts are 
fundamentally up to us. The idea of free will says we are free 
to think one thought rather than another, and to make one 
choice rather than another. As a matter of fact, free will says 
we're actually free not to make any choice at all if we wish. 
That's the notion of free will that Augustine coined, and that 
we are exploring. 

Let's put it to the test. For the next ten seconds, I want every 
one of you now watching this film to not think any thoughts 
at all. That's right; I want you to choose to make your mind go 
completely blank. Ready? Let's begin - 


[A big clock on the screen counts up from one to ten in big 
digits, as the narrator voices each number.] 


Well, how did you do? Were you able to clear your mind 
completely? My guess is that, if you who kept your eyes and 
ears open, you couldn't help but think about at least one of 
those numbers that flashed on the screen, and that I voiced 
out loud. So, where was your free will? Where was your 
ability to freely choose what you will think about? 

Let's put the notion of free will to a second test. For this one, 
during the next ten seconds I want you all to choose to think 
of nothing but a banana. We all have the free will to choose 
that, right? Here we go. 


[The narrator counts from one to ten, this time in Spanish, 
and the screen shows images of many other fruits, and one 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


35 


image designed to make the audience laugh, (i.e., the Fruit 
of the Loom characters] 


Hmmm. Did I hear some laughter out there? Were any of you 
who had your eyes open able to resist thinking about apples 
and oranges and (reference to the humorous image)? Were 
any of you who had your ears open able to avoid thinking 
about how this time I counted up to ten in Spanish? And for 
any of you who may have been tipped off about this test in 
advance, and kept your eyes and ears closed throughout, were 
you able to resist bragging to yourself about how you were, of 
your own free will, thinking only about the banana, and 
ironically, by doing so, demonstrating to yourself that you 
had not, in fact, thought only about the banana? 


Inviting Audiences' Personal Moral Experience to Refute 
Free Will 

Using their own moral experiences to help them understand why we 
don't have a free will, here the film invites audiences to extend their 
personal rejection of free will to include their moral decisions. These 
sequences continue to help viewers personally reject the idea of free 
will before being presented with the formal logical and scientific 
refutations. 

Do any of you think these tests were unfair? Do you think that 
because I asked you to focus on what I wanted, maybe this 
test really wasn't about your choice. Some of you may be 
thinking that free will is not about emptying your mind of all 



36 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


thoughts, or about focusing on bananas. Free will, you say, is 
really about whether our moral decisions - our decisions 
about right and wrong - are truly up to us. Okay, let's put this 
idea of our having the free will to do what's right or what's 
wrong to the test. 

For this one, I want you all to first think about the people you 
love the most in the world - the people you wouldn't want to 
hurt for anything in the world. 

Now think of a time when you actually did hurt them - when 
you became angry, maybe lost your temper, raised your voice, 
and let them have it. You said some things to them that really 
hurt their feelings, and afterwards felt bad about it because 
you knew in your heart that what you said was mean, and 
hurtful, and wrong. 

Now ask yourself, if you knew it was wrong when you did it, 
why did you do it? Why didn't you just use your free will to 
control your temper, and stop yourself from saying those 
mean, hurtful things? 

Or, maybe back when you said those things, you didn't realize 
how hurtful they were. Maybe you realized how wrong and 
hurtful you were only after you calmed down, and really 
thought about what you had said. 

We're now faced with two problems. If you believe that you 
had the free will to know, at the time you said those things, 
that they were wrong, why didn't you use your free will to 
not say them? The other possibility is that you did not, at the 
time you said them, have the free will to realize that saying 
those mean things was wrong. Either way, it seems quite clear 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


37 


that we don't truly have a free will to always do the right 
thing, or to refrain from doing the wrong thing, anytime we 
want. 


Establishing Society's Idiomatic Rejection of Free Will 

In these sequences, the film moves from a personal to a societal 
means of helping audiences challenge free will by asking them to 
recall several well-known sayings that reflect society's rejection of 
the notion. 

I think that deep down you already knew that. I think that 
deep down we all already understand that nobody ever really 
has a free will. Some of us may think this revelation is 
something very new. But, if we take a look at several well- 
known sayings that have been around for many years, we will 
see that our understanding that we really don't have a free 
will has a long history. 

Have you ever come to someone's defense as they were being 
yelled at? Do you remember saying to the angry person 
something like, "stop yelling; he was doing the best he could," 
or "she was doing the best she could!" Well, whether or not 
you realized it at the time, by doing that you were 
acknowledging to yourself, and reminding that angry person, 
that we really don't have a free will. 

Or have you ever heard the expression, or walked by a 
homeless person and thought to yourself, "There but for the 
grace of God go I." 



38 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


We think that to ourselves, and say that to others, because 
deep down in our heart we know very well that no one ever 
freely chooses to become homeless. We know deep down in 
our heart that mental illness, or addiction, or incredibly bad 
luck, or one of many other kinds of other reasons that were 
completely outside of that person's control, really explains 
why that person is homeless. 

Finally, have you ever heard or used the expression "don't 
judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes." Too 
often we rush to judgment not really understanding the 
circumstances that lead others to act as they do. When we 
pause to consider that if we were in their situation, we might 
act the same way, we become far more honest and fair about 
our judgments. 

"Fie was doing the best he could," "There but for the grace of 
God go I," "Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in 
his shoes." These are very popular sayings that have been 
with us for many, many years. And those of us who have 
heard them or thought them know very well that their 
meaning is that what we do or don't do is not fundamentally 
up to us, or up to a free will. 

A bit later, we'll go into all of this in much more detail, and 
bring in some science to help us better understand why we do 
not - why we absolutely cannot - have a free will. But right 
now you may be beginning to have some strong reactions 
over coming face to face with this truth that free will is 
nothing but an illusion. So, before we continue, let's address 
some of these feelings and concerns. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


39 


Calming Audiences' Fears about Abandoning Free Will 
Belief 

Having now used authoritative statements, personal experience and 
cultural idioms to challenge the notion of free will, these next 
sequences help viewers feel better, as the foundation for a belief they 
strongly held begins to crumble. Gaining audiences' emotional 
acceptance of free will being an illusion is as important to the film's 
mission as is gaining their cognitive understanding of this truth. 

As Shakespeare wrote in his play. As You Like It L "all the 
world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." 
Some of us may be afraid that our accepting this truth will sap 
some pleasure from life. But, think about it; how thoroughly 
do we now enjoy the novels we read, and the movies, plays 
and TV shows we watch, while fully accepting that we neither 
authored, nor have a role in, them? Actually, understanding 
and accepting that we are all merely actors in a grand cosmic 
theatrical production will more likely lead us to see our lives, 
and our world, as far more wonderful, as far more full of 
wonder. 

Some of us may fear that once our world acknowledges and 
accepts that free will is an illusion, the rules that guide our 
personal lives and the laws that structure our civilization will 
collapse. But, as we'll see later, while we will always need to 
hold ourselves and each other accountable for the right and 
wrong we do, we can accomplish this far more productively 
by abandoning our belief in free will. 

As we will also see later in the film, by evolving beyond the 
misplaced blame, and the resulting conflict, that too often 
accompanies our belief in free will, we can create a far more 



40 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


intelligent, harmonious, compassionate and happy world. But 
let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's now look at the hard 
science and unassailable logic that shows why free will is an 
illusion. 


How Universal Causality Refutes Free Will 

Here the film begins its formal refutations of free will with the most 
widely known, fundamental, and comprehensive arguments; that 
causality, or the law of cause and effect, and acausality, or 
theoretically uncaused events, both make free will impossible. 

Somewhat bizarrely, among scientists today, there is not full 
agreement about whether, at its most fundamental subatomic, 
or quantum, level, our reality is completely governed by 
causality, more commonly known as the law of cause and 
effect, or whether some physical events occur without their 
having been caused by anything - happening acausally. 

Setting aside some profoundly serious conceptual difficulties 
that accompany the notion of an uncaused event, it is 
nonetheless abundantly clear that free will is made equally 
impossible by both causality and acausality - by both caused 
and uncaused events. 

Causality can be considered a logical principle as well as a 
physical law. Let's explore why free will cannot exist in a 
causal universe. Under the causal model, when anything in 
our world happens, there must be a reason, or cause, that 
explains why it happened. For example, when a ball we held 
in our hand falls to the ground, we understand that gravity 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


41 


caused it to fall. When day turns to night, we know that our 
Earth's rotation has caused this change. And when we awaken 
from sleep each morning, we know that something in our 
brain caused this change. 

Here are some other examples of the cause and effect 
relationship that exists when anything happens. 


[Graphics depict 5-10 quick, brief causal relationships] 


We see that, according to causality, everything that happens 
has a reason; every effect has a cause. And this means that 
whatever causes anything to happen must also have a cause, 
and that this cause must also, itself, have had a cause, which 
also must have had a cause. 


[Graphics depict 5-10 quick, brief causal chains.] 


We can use dominos to illustrate this chain of cause and effect. 
First, it's important to understand that a cause must always 
come before its effect. In our example, each domino that falls 
is the effect of the one in front of it tumbling, which is the 
cause. Here, we see that the first domino in the chain causes 
the second one to tumble, the second causes the third, the 
third the forth, and so on. Each domino that falls is the effect 
of the one before it that caused it to fall. 

Now let's apply this understanding of causality to a decision 
we might make, like whether we will come to the aid of a 



42 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


friend in need. What caused us to come to his aid? Let's say 
that we helped our friend because as a child we had learned to 
treat others like we would like to be treated, and we came to 
value this important lesson. 

So, what caused us to value this lesson? Let's say we were 
once helped by someone when we needed help, and we 
remembered how grateful we had felt. And what caused us to 
learn this lesson of helping others? We probably learned it 
from people who love us, like our parents. 

Our parents taught us the lesson of treating others as we 
would like to be treated, our experience of needing and 
receiving help caused us to value this lesson, and our valuing 
the lesson caused us to come to the aid of our friend. 

Here, however, we've been exploring cause and effect from 
the psychological perspective of looking for reasons that 
explain why we do what we do. But causality, as we saw 
before, has a more precise and universal meaning. The law of 
cause and effect fundamentally explains the relationship 
between everything that happened in the past and everything 
that happens in the present, and the relationship between 
everything that happens in the present and everything that 
will happen in the future. 

A good way to understand this universal causality, and see 
how it explains absolutely everything about our past, present 
and future, is to start at the very beginning of everything that 
we know to exist; the beginning of our entire observable 


universe. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


43 


The Liniverse that we can observe came into being 13.8 billion 
years ago with the Big Bang event that caused our universe to 
expand to its current size. Scientists are quick to admit that 
they have no idea what caused that event, but, 
philosophically, many believe that it didn't just happen. 
Something must have caused the Big Bang event that began 
our known universe. 

Now let's take a look at how our universe expanded, moment 
by moment, from that initial Big Bang to what is happening 
right now. To better illustrate this we'll use dominos, this time 
to represent each moment, or state, of the universe. 

According to what we can observe and deduce, the Big Bang 
event completely and directly caused our entire known 
universe at its second moment. This must be so because the 
Big Bang event was the only thing that existed at that time 
that could have caused that second moment. 

Each new moment results in an expanded new state of our 
universe. So our entire universe at its second state caused our 
universe at its expanded third state. This third state caused its 
more expanded fourth state, its fourth state, its fifth, and so on 
through an all-encompassing chain of cause and effect that 
over almost 14 billion years brought us to the state of the 
universe today. 

It's important to keep in mind that the state of the universe at 
one moment is the complete cause of not just the entire state of 
the universe at the next moment; it's also the complete cause 
of every single event happening within that next state. 



44 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


To illustrate this point, blink your eyes right now. Under the 
causal model we're exploring, that blinking was completely 
caused by - was the direct effect of - the state of the universe at 
the moment just before you blinked. To suggest otherwise 
would be to either suggest that your blinking had no cause at 
all, or that it was caused by something that is not a part of our 
observable universe. With this latter possibility, we would be 
suggesting that something outside of our observable universe 
- and we could define this as some unknown realm within our 
theoretically infinite universe - caused us to blink. But 
because causality is both a physical law and a logical 
principle, the same reasoning that applies to our known 
universe would also apply to this more expansive, infinite 
universe. 

In other words, in this latter case, our behavior would have 
been caused by previous states of this theoretically infinite 
and eternal universe that includes both what we know exists 
and what we don't. 

So, if we follow the states of these two universal models back 
in time, moment by moment, state by state, we discover that 
our blinking was either initially caused by the Big Bang event, 
or by whatever caused both the Big Bang and all subsequent 
events. 

In this latter case, what we face is an infinite regress going 
further and further back in time. In neither scenario, however, 
can we conclude that we of a free will caused our eyes to 
blink. 

We can, of course, substitute any thought, feeling or action for 
our blinking, and reach the same conclusion. Our actions are 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


45 


not freely caused by us; they are completely caused, or 
compelled, by previous states of the universe. 

This understanding is not limited to human actions and 
choices. It also applies to the actions of every drop of rain, 
every grain of sand, and every gust of wind, we have ever 
observed; every molecule, atom and particle. What it means to 
be living in a completely causal universe is that our reality is 
very much like a movie, with each frame representing each 
evolving unique state of our universe. 

This is why, under a universe governed by the law of cause 
and effect, what we humans do can never, in any fundamental 
sense, be up to us, and why we do not therefore have a free 
will. 


How Universal Acausality Refutes Free Will 

It's important for audiences to understand that invoking 
interpretations of quantum mechanics that challenge the causality 
inherent in determinism do nothing to salvage the concept of free 
will. These following sequences explain this understanding. 

But what if this causal model is wrong? As our modern 
physicists and philosophers will eventually come to accept, 
this model is not wrong. But, just for the sake of argument, 
what if at its most fundamental level some events in our 
reality, in our universe, are acausal? What if some events, 
including some human choices, only appear to be caused, but 
in reality just happen, without any cause whatsoever? 



46 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


Again, setting aside profoundly serious conceptual problems 
that confront this acausal model, what if acausality accurately 
describes the fundamental nature of our universe? 

To answer this question, we need to keep in mind exactly 
what the notion of free will requires. Free will says that a 
human being causes every decision that a human being makes. 
A categorically insurmountable problem for this acausal 
model is that neither we, nor an alleged free will, can be 
logically considered the cause of a decision, or any other 
action, that we are asserting does not fundamentally have a 
cause. 

And if, as has been suggested, some events in our universe are 
caused, and others are not caused, how does this prospect 
offer any defense for a free will? If some of our decisions, or 
some parts of our decisions, are caused, the law of cause and 
effect, as we have already seen, renders free will impossible. If 
we suggest that some of our decisions, or some parts of our 
decisions, are not caused, how can we then, in any way, 
conclude that we or our free will, or, in fact, anything at all, 
caused them? By definition, an acausal decision is uncaused. It 
can in no logical or scientific sense be held to have been 
caused by a human being or a free will. 

Most importantly, when we recall that the notion of free will 
demands that we hold human beings fundamentally morally 
responsible for our actions, how can an acausal model 
possibly explain that? 

At the heart of the logic behind why we consider a human act 
moral or immoral lays the inescapable truth that our moral 
actions are predicated upon, or caused by, distinct moral 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


47 


principles we are choosing to uphold or abide by. 

But the acausal model does not meet this necessary condition. 
To say that a decision is uncaused is to say that it came about 
without it having been caused by anything, including any 
moral principle, or any desire that we act according to it. 

Let's say we decide to refrain from stealing because we 
consider stealing wrong, but want to describe that decision as 
having been uncaused. How can we possibly claim that this 
decision was not, in fact, caused by our understanding that 
stealing is wrong and our desire to abide by that moral 
principle? 

To claim that a moral decision is uncaused is to claim that it 
happened completely randomly, without rhyme or reason or 
cause. Such a decision can in no rational way then be 
described as either a moral or a freely willed decision. 

So far, we have seen that putting free will to the test of trying 
to not think any thoughts, or just one thought, to the test of 
having spoken unkindly to someone against our personal 
moral code, and to the test of how things happen in our 
physical universe all render free will impossible. But there are 
more ways to see why we humans do not have a free will. 


How Nature and Nurture Refute Free Will 

In these following sequences we recall a teaching we all learned hack 
in grade school, but don't generally consider in terms of its 
implications, in order to show how our standard scientific 



48 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


understanding of human behavior rejects the notion of free will. 

Let's now see how our basic scientific understanding of why 
humans and other living organisms do what we do also 
renders free will impossible. Do you recall having learned in 
school about a great scientific debate over whether human 
behavior is the product of nature or of nurture - about 
whether we humans do what we do because of our heredity 
or because of our environment? 

If you do, then you might also recall that the debate ended in a 
draw - our human actions are usually not completely 
determined by either nature or nurture, but, rather, by both 
nature and nurture. But what you probably didn't learn back 
then is that neither nature nor nurture alone, nor any 
combination of nature and nurture, allows for a human free 
will. In fact, during the decades-long course of that debate, the 
completely unscientific notion of free will was never even 
suggested as a possible third alternative to nature and nurture 
in explaining why we do what we do. 

Let's use some basic logic to fully appreciate how strongly and 
clearly we reach this inescapable conclusion. Let's first explore 
why our nature, or the genetic makeup we inherited from our 
parents, refutes free will. We can all agree that we humans 
don't get to decide which genes we're endowed with. That 
decision is made for us by basic biological processes that no 
one ever has any conscious control over long before we were 
bom. So, if we don't determine our genetic makeup, it's easy 
to understand why the behavior that results from our genes 
cannot possibly be freely willed. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


49 


But, as we've noted, genes are only part of the story here. The 
other determinant of what we do and don't do is our 
environment, or how we were nurtured, and what experiences 
we've had while interacting with our world. This interaction 
includes everything we've ever seen, heard, smelled, tasted 
and felt. 

Now our question becomes "are we truly able to freely decide 
what experiences we have, and how they later determine what 
we do and don't do?" For example, when we open a book and 
begin reading, do we have any say at all in what, exactly, we 
will read? While watching this film, is any of what you are 
now seeing and hearing in any way up to you? And we can 
extend this understanding to every television program and 
internet video we've ever seen, and to every song we've ever 
heard, and to every conversation we've ever had. 

Our basic understanding - and this is in no way controversial 
among biologists and psychologists - is that we, like all other 
animals, interact with our environment in a variety of ways 
that are in no scientific sense up to us, and that what we learn 
from these interactions, working together with our genetic 
makeup, is what makes us who we are, and determines what 
we do. Some of you may be thinking that it's certainly up to 
us whether or not we read a particular book, or watch a 
particular movie, or talk with a certain person. 

But what caused us to decide as we did if not our genes and 
an earlier experiences? Whether in one or a few steps, we 
quickly come to see that genes and experiences we neither 
invited nor control influence us in a way that eventually leads 
to all we do. And our heredity and past experiences prohibit 
free will in a second way because they are also governed by 



50 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


the law of cause and effect. 


How Our Biological and Psychological Drives Refute Free 
Will 

Here we consider our basic programming from the perspective of our 
biological and psychological drives, further strengthening for 
audiences their understanding that factors outside of our control, 
rather than a free will, are what always determine our behavior. 

And our genes, hormones and other biological factors, 
through the directives or programming of our basic biological 
drives, work together with our psychology in another way 
that prevents us from freely choosing anything. 

Those of us who have ever programmed a computer 
understand that what a computer does is never actually up to 
the computer - it always precisely reflects what the 
programmer has programmed that computer to do. While not 
a perfect analogy, we can view our biological drives and 
capacities as the hardware that determines what we can do, 
and our psychological drives as the software that determines, 
according to our programming, what we will do. 

Let's explore the biological drives, or needs, we were bom 
with like hunger and thirst, our need to breathe, our need to 
stay warm or cool, and sleep, and our drive to make babies. 
When our lives are endangered, we are biologically 
programmed to try to save them. As we move into adulthood, 
our genes and hormones compel us to, as best we can, find a 
mate and reproduce. We also have a reason drive that compels 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


51 


us to do what we find most reasonable, like pour a great 
volume of water into a large glass rather than into one that 
seems too small. 

Most biological drives are necessary to our staying alive as 
individuals, while the sex drive is necessary to our survival as 
a human species. 

While we can over-ride our sex drive, and decide whether to 
procreate or stay celibate, and in very rare cases our hunger 
and thirst drives, the same cannot be said for some of our 
other drives. Eventually, for example, our drive to breathe will 
overtake any desire we might have to keep holding our 
breath. This drive is biologically compelled. 

Alongside these biological drives, psychological drives like 
our desire to seek happiness and avoid unhappiness, and our 
compulsion to act according to reason, and our personal moral 
code, together make up a second set of programmed 
instructions that determine our every decision, and prevent us 
from deciding anything freely. Freud, in fact, grounded his 
well-known Pleasure Principle on this basic human drive to 
seek pleasure and avoid pain. 

Any time we make a decision we are relying on a mental 
calculus of what we believe will either maximize our 
immediate pleasure, or, over time, bring us the greatest 
overall pleasure and happiness. 

For example, experiments by Stanford University psychologist 
Walter Mischel showed that when five-year-olds were offered 
the choice between one marshmallow immediately or two 
marshmallows in fifteen minutes, some of them chose to 



52 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


endure that wait to gain what they felt would be the greater 
pleasure of that second marshmallow. Others, seeing the 
second one as not worth the frustration of waiting, opted for 
the one marshmallow. 

Although these children decided differently, they were each 
compelled by the psychological drive to, as best we can, seek 
pleasure and avoid pain. No decision we make ever escapes 
this programmed pleasure-pain calculus. 

Some may argue that although these biological and 
psychological drives influence our decisions, we can freely 
over-ride their influence. But does this claim stand up to the 
tests of reason, science and experience? 

Imagine heroically risking your life in order to spare 
civilization some great calamity. A free will-believer might 
argue that by deciding to risk your life, you have overridden 
your biological drive to stay alive. But, what could possibly 
have motivated you to override this drive to survive if not one 
or more of your other biological and psychological drives, 
like, for example, the drive to feel the pleasure of satisfying 
your conscience, or the drive to avoid the guilt you might feel 
over brushing off what your conscience is demanding that 
you do? 

Our decisions are also always explained by one or more 
competing biological and psychological drives. We always 
decide according to the stronger of these competing motives, 
none of which are under our conscious control. 

Some of you might think that because these drives are part of 
who we are, they therefore represent our free will. But can 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


53 


that position be defended? Does a compLiter decide what 
hardware it is built with, or what programming will guide its 
actions? Of course not. In the same way, we humans do not 
get to decide whether or not we have these competing drives, 
nor which among them ultimately prevails in determining our 
decisions. 


How Our Unconscious Mind Refutes Free Will 

Nature and nurture, and our biological and psychological drives, are 
not the only behavioral means we have of showing why human 
decisions are not freely willed. In these following sequences, the film 
clarifies for audiences why our decision-making all takes place at the 
level of our unconscious mind in ways that are below our awareness 
and beyond our control. 

Let's now explore our unconscious mind, and see how it 
prevents us from ever freely willing anything. To begin, let's 
first be clear about what that more familiar part of us that we 
call our conscious mind is, and what it does. 

Although psychologists have advanced over twenty different 
definitions of consciousness, the most generally accepted view 
of our conscious mind describes it as what we know we are 
aware of on a moment-by-moment basis. Our conscious mind 
includes not only what we see, hear, touch, taste and smell, 
but also what we think and feel. In essence, our conscious 
mind is how we knowingly experience our world. 
Psychologists, on the other hand, call our unconscious mind 
the unconscious mind precisely because it operates below the 
level of our conscious, or knowing, awareness. 



54 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


It is very important to understand that our conscious mind, 
this ever-changing stream of thoughts, images, perceptions, 
impressions and feelings, is completely limited to the task of 
awareness. It never actually stores any information in the form 
of memories. It is our unconscious mind that serves as the 
repository for all of our memories - both those that it can 
readily bring into our conscious awareness, and those that we 
may never ever become consciously aware of. And although 
experiments in psychology reveal that our unconscious mind 
is also aware of what we are consciously aware of, the reverse 
cannot be said to be true because, by definition, our 
unconscious mind operates below the level of our conscious 
awareness. 

Our conscious mind is also not an information-processing 
mechanism. Because all of the data, in the form of memories, 
which are indispensible to decision-making, is stored in our 
unconscious mind, it is actually our unconscious mind that 
processes this information, makes a decision, and then 
sometimes makes us consciously aware of its decision. 

In a very real sense, our unconscious mind, with its ability to 
perceive, retain, parallel-process, and retrieve vast quantities 
of information is our mind. Our conscious mind is simply 
whatever our unconscious mind happens to be highlighting, 
or bringing into conscious awareness, at any given moment. 

How does this all relate to free will? Well, the concept of free 
will stipulates that our conscious mind chooses our thoughts 
and actions. But because our memories and our memory¬ 
processing mechanisms - those parts of us that are 
indispensible to deciding - both reside in our unconscious 
mind, our decisions must all be made by our unconscious 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


55 


mind. We only ever become consciously aware of these 
decisions if and when our unconscious mind decides to bring 
them to our conscious awareness. 

Some of you may be feeling quite bewildered by these 
revelations, but they are in no way either speculative or new. 
As explained in great detail by the late Harvard psychologist, 
Daniel Wegner, in his classic work The Illusion of Conscious 
Will L this understanding that our unconscious mind is our 
deciding mind has been validated by many experiments 
spanning decades in the field of psychology, particularly 
within the areas of hypnosis and priming. Let's take a look at 
some of this empirical evidence. 


How Psychology Experiments Challenge Free Will 

Having established the logic behind why decisions that occur at the 
level of the unconscious can't be ascribed to a free will, these next 
sequences help audiences appreciate that this conclusion has been 
repeatedly verified through many experiments. 

We begin with an experiment that 2002 Nobel Prize winning 
psychologist, Danial Kahneman, conducted with Amos 
Tversky. Essentially, they rigged a Wheel of Fortune so that it 
would always land on either 10 or 65. They then asked 
subjects to first spin the wheel, and then guess what percent of 
African countries are members of the United Nations. They 
discovered that those who landed on 10 guessed around 25 
percent, while those who landed 65 guessed around 45 
percent. No one, however, was aware of the anchoring effect 
that the rigged numbers had on their answers. 



56 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


In a different experiment, using a technology called 
transcranial magnetic stimulation, psychologist, Keise Izuma, 
and his collaborators first asked their subjects about their 
religious beliefs. Izuma then moved a powerful magnet near 
their heads, and asked them to rate their belief in God, angels 
and heaven. Remarkably, the magnet temporarily lowered the 
strength of their commitment to those three beliefs by about 
32 percent. 

In a priming experiment, psychologist John Bargh and his 
collaborators gave one group of subjects a list of words such 
as Florida, Bingo, and gray that are suggestive of old age, and 
then asked them to perform a sentence-unscrambling task. 
Subjects in their control group were assigned the same task, 
but the words they were given were neutral, not suggesting 
anything in particular. 

After the task, both groups were told that the experiment was 
over, but it was not. As each group walked toward an elevator 
to leave the building, the "old age" group was observed 
walking noticeably more slowly than the control group. 

In a different version of the experiment, the researchers gave 
some subjects words such as patient, and courteous, and other 
subjects words such as rude, and disturb. After completing the 
task, the subjects were instructed to hand in their results to 
someone who, unbeknownst to them, was a part of the 
experiment, and whose role was to remain engaged in 
conversation with another person for ten minutes. 

On average, the rudeness-primed subjects interrupted the 
conversation about three times more often within those ten 
minutes than did the patience-primed ones. When asked why 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


57 


they acted as they did, the subjects offered creative 
confabulations, but showed no awareness of the words' 
priming effect on their behavior. 

Let's now look at a post-hypnotic suggestion experiment 
where psychiatrist Albert Moll placed a subject under 
hypnosis, and suggested that when he wakes up, he should 
take a flowerpot from the window sill, wrap it in a cloth, put it 
on the sofa, and bow to it three times. 

As expected, when the subject awoke, he did just that. What's 
so interesting about this experiment is that when Moll asked 
him to explain why he performed those actions, his subject 
gave the following response: 

You know, when I woke and saw the flowerpot 
there I thought that as it was rather cold. The 
flower-pot had better be warmed a little, or else 
the plant would die. So I wrapped it in the cloth, 
and then I thought that as the sofa was near the 
fire I would put the flowerpot on it; and I bowed 
because I was pleased with myself for having 
such a bright idea. 

These kinds of anchoring, transcranial magnetic stimulation, 
priming, and post-hypnotic suggestion experiments have been 
successfully replicated many times. What they clearly show is 
that influences we are not consciously aware of determine our 
actions in ways that are completely hidden from us. They 
suggest that unconscious processes, and not an alleged 
conscious free will, determine and explain why we do what 
we do. 



58 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


How Libet and Replications Refute Free Will 

Having showed how psychology experiments refute free will, these 
next sequences show that the notion can also be refuted using 
neuroscientific measurements and evidence. 

While decades of experimentation have provided strong 
psychological evidence that free will is an illusion, over the 
last thirty years the field of neuroscience has amassed a body 
of physical evidence also strongly supporting the conclusion 
that we humans become aware of our decisions only after our 
unconscious has already made them, rendering the prospect 
of a free will impossible. 

In 1964, German neurologist, Hans Komhuber, used an 
electroencephalogram, or EEG, and an electromyogram, or 
EMG, to detect neural activity that occurred before a muscle 
began to contract, and termed this neural activity "the 
readiness potential." 

Two decades later, American neuropsychologist, Benjamin 
Libet, used Kornhuber's experimental protocol to determine 
whether this readiness potential occurs before, during, or after 
a person has made the conscious decision to initiate muscle 
movement. 

This was a truly revolutionary experiment. To the scientific 
world's astonishment, Libet discovered that unconscious 
processes had already initiated muscle movement about half a 
second before subjects in his experiments reported their 
conscious decision to move those muscles. This finding 
represented solid, empirical, physiological evidence that 
unconscious processes precede our conscious awareness of 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


59 


OLir decisions, and that free will must be an illusion. 

Some scientists were disturbed by Libet's results, and they 
began to raise objections. They first claimed that because half 
of a second is so brief an interval of time, Libet's results may 
be flawed. 

But in 2008, Dr. Chun Soon and his colleagues published the 
results of replications of Libet's experiments that they had 
conducted using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or 
fMRI, which is a more precise imaging technology than the 
EEG, and successfully predicted which of two buttons subjects 
would press a full ten seconds before the action occurred. 

Critics also claimed that individuals may not be able to 
accurately report the exact timing of their conscious decision 
to move a muscle. But in 2011, Itzhak Fried and his colleagues 
published results of an experiment they conducted that tested 
for this kind of error by recording the activity of single 
neurons while subjects initiated muscle movement. They 
found that subjects' reporting of their conscious decisions 
were, indeed, quite accurate. Furthermore, through their far 
more precise methodology, they found that those individual 
neurons fired a full two seconds before subjects became aware 
of their decision. 

Critics then claimed that Libet's and subsequent replications 
only tested simple muscle movements rather than the more 
complex everyday decision-making that more directly relates 
to the question of free will. But in 2013 Soon and his 
colleagues published results of an experiment that asked 
subjects to either add or subtract a set of numbers, and 
reported that neural activity predicted their answers four 



60 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


seconds before the subjects were aware of arriving at those 
answers. 

Having soundly failed in refuting Libet's and others' findings 
that our decisions are actually made by unconscious processes 
before we become consciously aware of them, critics then 
suggested that while unconscious processes may indeed 
initiate our decisions, we may have the ability to afterwards 
consciously veto our unconscious decisions. But in 2009, 
Simone Kuhn and her colleague, Marcel Brass, published 
results based on the understanding that subjects must 
necessarily be aware of when they are cancelling a decision, 
and found that such vetoing cannot be consciously, or freely, 
initiated. 

Over thirty years have passed since Libet first astonished the 
scientific world with his discovery that our decisions are made 
by unconscious processes rather than by our conscious will. 
His experiments provide powerful empirical evidence that 
free will is an illusion. After numerous, even more conclusive, 
replications, there is now a strong consensus among today's 
neuroscientists that free will is - that it must be - an illusion. 


How Our Religions Refute Free Will 

Many people mistakenly believe that free will is an idea that is 
presented and defended in the Bible, and that it has always been 
central to our zoorld's five major religions. These next very 
important sequences correct such misconceptions in order to help 
audiences integrate their current belief in an omnipotent, 
omniscient, infallible God with the truth that God's will, and not a 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


61 


human free will, makes us decide as we do. 

We've seen how our personal experience, our logic and our 
science all lead to the inescapable conclusion that we humans 
do not have a free will. Over 80 percent of our global 
population, however, believes in God or a higher power. What 
have the world's most popular religious traditions had to say 
about this notion of free will? 

Some branches of our oldest surviving religion, Hinduism, 
believe we humans do not have a free will, while others 
believe that we do. Swami Vivekananda of the Vedanta school 
frames the problem for free will as follows: 

There cannot be any such thing as free will; the 
very words are a contradiction because will is 
what we know, and everything we know is 
within our universe, and everything within our 
universe is molded by conditions of time, space, 
and causality. 

If this sounds familiar, it is because Vivekananda is invoking 
the scientific law of cause and effect that, as we've seen, makes 
free will impossible. 

The problem for personal autonomy within Buddhism is that 
Buddhist philosophy soundly rejects the notion of a personal 
self. Without a personal self, the idea of a person freely willing 
anything becomes incoherent. While some Buddhists 
acknowledge that free will is conceptually impossible, they 
have adopted the pragmatic position that for us to avoid 
negative Karma - or the idea that what goes around comes 
around - we should act as if we have a free will. 



62 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


Considering that free will is a foundation of modern Judaism 
and of its two derivative monotheistic religions, Christianity 
and Islam, one might expect that the concept has been 
extensively explored in the Bible. The truth, however, is the 
exact opposite. 

In its original Hebrew and Aramaic languages, the term free 
will is nowhere to be found in the Bible. This is not to say, 
however, that holding humans morally responsible is also 
absent. As early as Genesis 3:16-17, Adam and Eve are 
severely punished by God for having transgressed his 
commandment that they not eat the fruit of the tree of 
knowledge of good and evil. 

While the Garden of Eden story in Genesis is taken by some to 
suggest that Adam and Eve had a free will, the Bible presents 
a completely opposite account in the very next book. Exodus. 
We find that God prevented Pharaoh from allowing the 
Hebrew people to leave Egypt, even though Pharaoh at one 
point complained that he very much wanted to let them go. 

Within Judaism, the notion of free will is Rabbinic, rather than 
biblical, in origin. Furthermore, the Talmud, a 6,200 page 
presentation and elucidation of biblical and Rabbinic 
Judaism's teachings, scarcely mentions the idea. Nowhere in 
that encyclopedic collection is there a convincing defense, or 
even a detailed exploration, of free will. In fact. Rabbi Akiva, 
who was heralded in the Talmud as the "head of all the 
sages," altogether sidesteps any exploration of the concept, 
offering only the self-contradictory claim that "Everything is 
foreseen, yet free will is given." 


Of the three major sects of Judaism that existed 2,000 years 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


63 


ago when Christianity began, only the Sadducees believed we 
humans have complete control over what we do. The 
Pharisees, who were the dominant Jewish sect, believed that 
we have a free will only when it comes to our moral decisions. 
The Essenes rejected free will altogether, abiding by the 
understanding that because God is omnipotent, or all- 
powerful, everything that happens must happen according to 
God's will. 

Indeed, when we also consider God's attribute of omniscience, 
or knowledge of everything, alongside his attribute of 
infallibility, or inability to make a mistake, free will becomes a 
logical impossibility. In other words, if God knew 1,000 years 
ago all that you would think, feel, say and do today, you have 
no choice but to act in exact accordance with this 
foreknowledge. If you were to deviate even slightly from what 
God back then knew you would do today, you would be 
negating his infallibility. You would be showing God to have 
been wrong. Logically, there is no way that you can today do 
anything other than what God, 1,000 years ago, knew you 
would do. 

Interestingly, historians have found striking similarities 
between the customs of the Essenes and those of early 
Christians, suggesting not only that Jesus drew many of his 
ideas and ideals from that Jewish sect, but that he may himself 
have been an Essene before becoming the Jewish Messiah. 

Perhaps that explains why John, in verse 6:44 of his Gospel, 
quotes Jesus himself rejecting free will by saying "No man 
can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him." 



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Nowhere in the Bible is the phrase free will found or 
defended, however two passages in the New Testament 
explore this idea, and conclude that we humans do not have a 
free will. 

In his letter to the Romans, verses 7:15 through 23, the Apostle 
Paul clearly, directly, and forcefully describes his personal 
inability to always be good and do good as a means of 
explaining his lack of a free will. He writes: 

I do not understand what I do. For what I want 
to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I 
do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law 
is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do 
it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good 
itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful 
nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, 
but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good 
I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do — 
this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not 
want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is 
sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at 
work: Although I want to do good, evil is right 
there with me. For in my inner being I delight in 
God's law; but I see another law at work in me, 
waging war against the law of my mind and 
making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work 
within me. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


65 


A few passages later in verse 8:29, Paul expands on this 
rejection of free will by describing God as foreknowing and 
predestining human behavior: 

For whom Fie foreknew. He also predestined to 
be conformed to the image of His Son, that He 
might be the firstborn among many brethren. 
Moreover whom He predestined, these He also 
called; whom He called, these He also justified; 
and whom He justified, these He also glorified. 


So, while the term free will is not found in the Bible, the only 
in-depth exploration of the notion argues directly and 
conclusively against it. In modern day Christianity, the 
Calvinist denomination continues to side with Paul in 
rejecting free will. 

As we saw earlier, the phrase free will was not even coined by 
Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, until 380 A.D., long after the 
Bible had been written. Augustine coined the term in order to 
justify God's punishment of evil, not realizing that moral 
reformation and the need to deter indiscretions fully justify 
punishment in a way that doesn't at all require a human free 
will. 

In Islam, the debate about free will began in the 8th century 
with the Hanbali school arguing that God has complete 
control over all human actions, and the Mu'tazili school 
arguing that humans freely do right and wrong. The Hanbali 
position, however, seems more in line with Islam's holiest 
scripture, the Quran. Verses 57:22 through 24 of that book not 
only give God the credit for what we humans do, it goes on to 
explain why rejecting free will is the wiser course: 



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GEORGE ORTEGA 


No misfortune can happen, either in the earth or 
in yourselves, that was not set down in writing 
before We brought it into being — that is easy for 
God — so you need not grieve for what you miss 
or gloat over what you gain. God does not love 
the conceited, the boastful. 


Review of the Free Will Refutations 

Thus far the film has been building, argument by argument, the case 
against free will. In the following sequences, it brings together all of 
these points in order to more forcefully demonstrate how 
overwhelming and incontrovertible the evidence against free will 
truly is. 

As we've seen, there are numerous ways to show that free will 
is an illusion. However, some of us concoct what can only be 
described as bizarrely illogical arguments in attempting to 
defend the notion. 

Before we take a look at some of these free will defenses, and 
see why they fail, let's briefly review what we've covered thus 
far so we can better appreciate the full weight of the evidence 
they're up against. 

We started out with the most basic and intuitive evidence; 
simply putting our alleged free will to the test. We discovered 
that we cannot freely think of nothing at all if we want or 
think whatever we want whenever we want. We also cannot 
be as good as we want to be anytime we want 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


67 


We then saw that the basic reason we cannot do these things, 
and why we do not have a free will, is because if what we do 
has been caused by a chain of events that spans back in time to 
before we were bom, events that were clearly not under our 
control have determined our actions. If we try to challenge 
this truth by claiming that what we do may be random, or 
uncaused, this prospect offers no help because neither we, nor 
our free will, nor anything else, can be the cause of, or freely 
choose, a random and uncaused action. 

We learned that nature and nurture, or our heredity and 
environment, completely explain human behavior, and that 
the notion of free will as a possible third mechanism for what 
we do has been found to be so lacking in scientific merit that it 
has never even been granted serious consideration by the 
scientific community. 

We learned that we are bom with certain biological and 
psychological drives like survival, sex, and the drive to seek 
pleasure and avoid pain, and that these drives serve as the 
basic programming for everything we do in the same way a 
computer's hardware and software completely determine 
everything the computer does. 

We also learned that because our conscious mind is limited to 
simply being aware, all of the data and principles that we base 
our decisions on must be stored, as memories, in our 
unconscious mind. And because our conscious mind does not 
have autonomous access to the contents of those memories, 
it's actually our unconscious mind that makes all of our 
decisions for us, and then, at times, makes us aware, or 
conscious, of what it has decided. 



68 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


Finally, we learned that within our world's five major 
religions, the understanding that what we humans do is not 
truly up to us has a long history, and that the only biblical 
exploration of this matter, undertaken by the Apostle Paul, 
argued forcefully against free will. 

We have looked at just a small sampling of the mountain of 
experiential, logical, physical, psychological, neurological and 
theological evidence that independently demonstrate that free 
will is as impossible as it is for one plus one to equal three. 


Accepting that Our Will is Not Free 

Again the film takes into account the difficulties that viewers may be 
having in confronting their lack of a free will, and offers various 
consolations. 

It may not be easy for some of us to come to terms with this 
revelation. Some of us may be wondering, "Without a free 
will, what meaning do our lives hold?" But is this pessimistic 
view justified? Do any of us, for example, ever have any 
control over whom we fall in love with, or even if we fall in 
love? It certainly doesn't seem that way, but don't we 
nevertheless greatly value, and find deep meaning, in loving 
and being loved, and in being in love? 

Some of us may fear that as we evolve beyond the belief in 
free will, we must abandon our morality, and our rules and 
laws. However, this fear is unfounded. All we have to do is 
look to our world's health care system, a model that doesn't 
for one moment believe people choose the psychiatric 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


69 


conditions that afflict them, like autism, depression, ADHD, 
schizophrenia and social anxiety, but nonetheless holds 
patients who break our societal rules and laws accountable for 
these acts. Because reward and punishment are powerful tools 
for reforming and deterring hurtful and criminal behavior, the 
psychiatric profession holds people with those conditions 
pragmatically, as distinct from fundamentally, morally 
responsible without needing to rely on the concept of a free 
will. 

Few individuals with a psychiatric condition believe that 
because they didn't choose to become ill, they therefore have 
carte blanche to do whatever they please, without suffering 
any consequences. More to the point, our current system of 
morality, founded as it is on an illusion that causes us to 
blame people for what is not fundamentally up to them, is 
quite immoral. As we abandon our belief in free will, we 
create a system that is far more fair and just. 

Some of us may fear that as our world moves beyond the 
mistaken notion of free will, we will sacrifice some of our 
happiness. The fear is that as we understand and accept that 
everything that happens has already been predetermined, and 
we lose our sense of authorship, we will also lose our sense of 
novelty and wonder. But don't we thoroughly enjoy our 
novels, movies and plays, sometimes over and over, 
completely aware that none of what happens in them is in any 
way up to us, and accepting that we don't even play a role in 
the stories they tell? As we saw earlier, it is because we 
humans do not have a free will, and because we are hard¬ 
wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain, that we can feel quite 
confident about maintaining the happiness we now enjoy. In 
fact, because our belief in free will causes us so much 



70 


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unnecessary conflict and under-the-radar suffering, we can all 
look forward to a much happier world as we leave that 
harmful illusion behind. 

This profound revelation that free will is an illusion, and that 
nothing we humans do is ever truly up to us, may not feel so 
comfortable to some of us right now. But, let's take a closer 
look at the harm free will belief causes and the many ways our 
personal lives will change for the better as we move beyond it. 


Pre- and Post-Free Will Belief Vignettes 

People's belief in free will is deeply ingrained. It is also often 
cherished because many who hold it have not yet been introduced to 
the great harm the belief causes. Providing audiences with another 
interlude from the film's documentary format, these following 
sequences detail why believing in free will creates so much 
unnecessary suffering, and how overcoming the belief can enhance 
their lives. 

In these following before-and-after vignettes, we will see how 
overcoming our belief in free will can help us deal with each 
other in a far more direct, effective, and pleasant manner. The 
way our belief in free will causes us problems every day falls 
under four general categories; blame, guilt, arrogance and low 
self-esteem. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


71 


[Blame] 


Let's take a look at them one by one, and see how evolving 
beyond free will belief can improve our lives. 


[1. Free Will: A wife discovers that her husband has been 
cheating on her. They are engaged in an intense emotional 
fight, with her threatening to divorce him. He counter¬ 
attacks by claiming that she has been cold and unloving for 
far too long.] 


[Post-Free Will: The couple calmly talks about what is 
happening from the perspective that it is afflicting them 
both. She is still upset, but not at him. He relates his 
feelings without blaming her. Together, though somewhat 
sadly and with some frustration, they proceed to work out 
their problem.] 


[2. Free Will: A man feels upset about his wife having 
gained weight. He won't say anything because he basically 
blames her for this, and doesn't want to hurt her feelings. 
She too is upset because, although he remains silent, she 
senses his discontent.] 


Belief in free will causes us to blame others for what is truly 
not their fault. Who, of a free will, chooses to gain weight, or 
be unable to lose it? Blame all too often leads to hurt feelings. 



72 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


[Post-Free Will: Since her husband doesn't blame her, and 
they both understand that she lacks a free will, they are able 
to talk about her weight-gain as something that is 
happening to her, and to them without the discussion 
leading to shame, guilt and anger.] 


Overcoming our belief in free will won't solve everything. We 
will continue to become upset over some of what happens to 
us. But because we don't blame each other, we avoid 
unnecessary suffering, and are able to problem-solve 
whatever needs our attention far more productively. 


[3. Free Will: Ed, Ron and Margaret are siblings, but they 
have not spoken with each other for several years. Ed 
blames Ron for being too self-centered and greedy, Ron 
blames Ed for not being ambitious, and Margaret blames 
them both for splitting up the family.] 


Free will belief leads to blame. Blame leads to hostility, and 
hostility keeps people apart. Let's see how overcoming the 
belief in free will changes this dynamic. 


[Post-Free Will: Each one understanding that no one of a free 
will ever chooses to be the kind of person they are, Ed and 
Ron don't take each other's differences personally. As a 
result, they are more accepting of each other, and the family 
relationships stay intact.] 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


73 


Ed and Ron's differences don't magically disappear, but 
because they are talking with each other more often, and 
without blame and hostility, they come to understand each 
other, and themselves, better. They are able to negotiate their 
differences as allies rather than adversaries, each feeling they 
are on the same side, fighting against a challenging fate that 
has led them to see things differently. 


[4. Free Will: Karen and Alice are friends. Karen is late to 
wherever she's going far more often than she's on time. An 
hour late in meeting Alice, Alice let's her have it. Karen 
retaliates by claiming that Alice is too sensitive.] 


When we blame others for what is not fundamentally their 
fault, they often retaliate by blaming us for what is also not 
fundamentally our fault. 


[Post-Free Will: Karen and Alice don't blame each other for 
their failings, but they blame something. Not needing to feel 
or become defensive about her lateness, Karen arrives 
expressing heartfelt regret. Without a rational reason to 
blame Karen, Alice is able to humorously describe why 
she's angry with the universe for making her late. The two, 
however, also constructively discuss how Karen might be 
able to overcome her tendency to keep others waiting.] 


As we come to understand that we do not have the free will to 
be as considerate and on time as we would like, we become 
more patient with each other. Although we are not 



74 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


fundamentally to blame for this, keeping others waiting is still 
wrong. But without the blaming and hostility that often 
directly result from our belief in free will, we can address this 
wrong in a far more civil and constructive manner, and better 
protect the relationships we care about. 


[Guilt] 


And when we turn this free will-based blame on ourselves, we 
invite unnecessary suffering into our lives. 


[1. Free Will: Jim is shown meeting with his boss, who is 
complaining about his poor performance, and threatening to 
let him go. Jim becomes increasingly worried, and blames 
himself for his failings. As a result, he loses more and more 
confidence, and becomes depressed. He won't talk to anyone 
about his problem because he feels too ashamed.] 


As blaming ourselves turns to shame, we become increasingly 
unable to seek support in overcoming our faults. 


[Post-Free Will: The meeting between Jim and his boss goes 
much more productively. Jim is still concerned about being 
fired, but because he doesn't blame himself, he doesn't get 
depressed. He stays productive, talks with his friends and 
co-workers about how to improve his performance, and 
makes progress.] 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


75 


By rejecting the idea of free will, we are spared the shame it 
invites, and can then share our problems with those who can 
help. 


[2. Free Will: After a train derailment, an emergency medical 
services worker is trying desperately to save someone's life. 
Distracted by the chaos everywhere, he mistakenly 
administers a wrong treatment, and the person dies. The 
EMS worker becomes distraught, and consumed by guilt. He 
quits his job, and his life spirals downward. He eventually 
becomes homeless.] 


Sometimes the guilt our belief in free will makes us feel can 
become so damaging it can destroy our life. 


[Post-Free Will: The man feels terrible about what 
happened, but doesn't blame himself. He realizes that his 
EMS job isn't the best fit for him. He finds a new position as 
a physical therapist, and moves forward with his life.] 


Freed from this irrational, destructive guilt, we become better 
able to assess our options, and make whatever changes are 
called for. 


[3. Free Will: A woman married to an emotionally 
unavailable husband falls out of love with him. She feels 
extremely guilty because she feels she has failed to be a 
good wife, and becomes more and more depressed.] 



76 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


Believing in free will can even make us feel guilty over the 
failings of others. 


[Post-Free Will: The woman doesn't blame herself for of her 
lack of feelings. After working to improve the relationship 
for several years, she finally accepts that she has done all she 
can, and leaves her husband in order to find someone more 
suitable.] 


By not holding ourselves fundamentally responsible for what 
is not truly under our control, we become more 
compassionate toward ourselves, and this allows us to better 
pursue the happiness that is our inherent right. 


[4. Free Will: As a teenage boy, Carl's best friend began to 
have emotional problems, and often threatened to end his 
life. While Carl tried his best to help, his friend ultimately 
committed suicide. For the rest of his life, Carl carried the 
guilt of his not having been able to save his friend, making 
it impossible for him to enjoy his own good fortune.] 


Sometimes our self-blame assails us year after year. This guilt, 
and the self-punishment it causes, can slowly ruin our life. 


[Post-Free Will: Carl understands that his friend's suicide 
was fated to happen. While still deeply saddened, by not 
blaming himself for his friend's death, Carl is spared a 
lifetime of guilt and self-punishment.] 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


77 


Understanding that our lives and the lives of those we love 
unfold according to a fate that none of us has any true control 
over is not only the accurate view of our reality, it can spare us 
a lifetime of misguided and painful regret. 

Without believing in free will, it is logically impossible to fault 
ourselves for not being as good a person as we would truly 
want to be. This doesn't mean we can't change and improve. 
But acknowledging our fundamental innocence opens 
avenues to us that would otherwise remain closed. 


[Arrogance] 


Blame and guilt are not the only ways our belief in free will 
harms us. When the universe makes us excel over others in 
various ways, our tendency to attribute this success to our free 
will leads us to become arrogant. This excessive pride not only 
creates a high wall between us and others, it can also cause 
others to suffer from feelings of envy and inferiority. 


[1. Free Will: A men's soccer team accustomed to losing 
season after season finds itself in the World Cup. At a night 
club, they are boisterous and full of themselves, 
disrespecting those around them.] 


Knowing that our victories are not truly up to us keeps us 
humble and grateful, and much more considerate of the 
feelings of others. 



78 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


[Post-Free Will: The team knows that they've been very 
lucky, and, as with many athletes, they are somewhat 
superstitious. They appreciate that their victory has all been 
a matter of luck rather than because of their collective free 
will. Afraid that if they become arrogant and offensive their 
lucky streak will end, they maintain their humility, and 
show appropriate respect and gratitude toward those around 
them.] 


[2. Free Will: A man becomes financially successful, and this 
changes the way he treats others. He loses respect for the 
people he encounters daily, like waiters and cashiers, and 
his old friends are no longer good enough for him.] 


As our belief in free will leads us to become boastful and 
snobbish, we tend to disrespect and demean those among us 
who have been less successful. 


[Post-Free Will: The man realizes how fortunate he has been, 
feels a sense of noblesse oblige, and goes out of his way to 
respect, and be helpful to, those less fortunate. Rather than 
distance himself from his friends, he becomes a new source 
of inspiration for them.] 


When we understand that our gifts are just that, and nothing 
we've ever truly earned, we cultivate gratitude and an 
unassuming nature, and we become eager to share the fruits 
of these gifts with others. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


79 


[3. Free Will: An aspiring young actress lands a leading role 
in a Broadway musical, and now sees herself as more special 
and important than her brothers and sisters, and her parents. 
She constantly makes up excuses for why she is too busy to 
see them, as she devotes more and more of her time to 
climbing the social ladder.] 


As we attribute our fortune to ourselves, we often feel 
exclusively privileged. We, at times, become more and more 
competitive, leaving our loved ones behind as we strive to 
climb the social ladder of mistakenly-attributed success. 


[Post-Free Will: The actress feels grateful for all of the 
support her parents and siblings have given her over the 
years, and makes special efforts to spend time, and share her 
success, with them.] 


Overcoming our belief in free will helps us better understand 
that enjoying, rather than constantly competing with, others is 
a far wiser course for us to follow. 


[4. Free Will: A man gets promoted from staff to 
management of his company, and begins snubbing his 
former co-workers.] 


Snobbishness is one of our uglier human traits, demonstrating 
an underdeveloped moral code. When our belief in free will 
belief leads us to snub others, we also demean ourselves. 



80 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


[Post-Free Will: The man keeps in mind the many ways his 
co-workers had been there for him over the years, and the 
good times they have had as friends. Rather than becoming 
arrogant, he uses his new position to advocate for various 
improvements in his former co-workers' departments.] 


No man is an island, and we don't get far in life without a lot 
of help from others, and a lot of good luck. Seeing through the 
illusion of free will helps us better understand ourselves and 
others, and empathize with those who have not been as lucky. 


[Low Self Esteem] 


Just as free will belief causes some to mistakenly conclude that 
they are fundamentally better than others, the belief can also 
have the opposite effect, leading many to feel inferior and 
unworthy. 


[1. Free Will: A man deeply in love with a woman becomes 
distraught over her breaking up with him. He blames 
himself for not having been able to please her, and his 
diminished self-confidence prevents him from dating other 
women.] 


[Post-Free Will: The man doesn't blame himself for the 
breakup, and correctly concludes that they were just not 
right for each other. His sense of self-worth intact, he begins 
to date other women.] 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


81 


[2. Free Will: A young girl with an older sister who is a 
straight-A student struggles to earn Cs at school. As her 
parents constantly dote on her high-achieving sister, the girl 
becomes increasingly insecure. She becomes very quiet, and 
fails to develop her personality.] 


Free will belief encourages an unhealthy form of competition. 
It often demands that someone must lose for someone else to 
win. When a person is neglected by others in favor of 
someone with more advanced abilities or skills, the person can 
eventually come to feel that they don't measure up to anyone. 


[Post-Free Will: Fully aware that the older sister has simply 
been fortunate in her academic achievement, her parents 
and older sister make extra efforts to support the younger 
sister. They help her discover what she is good at, and help 
her to always feel happy and confident.] 


As we come to better understand that the losers among us are 
no less deserving of respect and esteem than are the winners, 
we work to ensure that we all feel valued. 


[3. Free Will: A blue collar worker feels bad about not being 
able to afford a big house, fancy clothes, and expensive 
vacations. He feels ashamed in the presence of those who 
are richer, and his wife and children also feel that sense of 
inferiority.] 



82 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


Sometimes our belief in free will causes us to blame ourselves 
for lacking certain qualities that the more fortunate enjoy. This 
self-blame can manifest as a sense of unworthiness that also 
effects the rest of our family. 


[Post-Free Will: Acknowledging that he was not bom with 
the qualities and circumstances that might have made him a 
financial success, the man nevertheless appreciates his own 
unique strengths. He accepts himself for who he is. His 
family enjoys a healthy pride that is based on the qualities 
they have, like being hard-working, honest, and caring.] 


Just as our successes are not truly up to us, neither are our 
failings and limitations. Evolving beyond our belief in free 
will helps us appreciate that healthy perspective. 


[4. Free Will: An elderly woman who has never married or 
had children feels insecure around her more fortunate 
friends. Feeling that she has been a failure in life, she feels 
she doesn't measure up to them. She avoids their company, 
and leads a sad, lonely life.] 


Lacking a free will, no one gets to choose whom they marry, 
or even whether they ever get married, and raise a family. 
Free will belief causes some of us who have not been fortunate 
enough to enjoy those blessings to attribute this failing to 
ourselves. When we do that our self-worth suffers. As we 
value ourselves less and less, some of us increasingly feel the 
need to avoid those who have been more fortunate. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


83 


[Post-Free Will: The woman, always having understood that 
how our lives turn out is never truly up to us, does not allow 
her circumstances to lower her sense of self-worth. Her high 
self-regard and confidence is appealing to others, and 
ensures that her life is filled with friends and joy.] 


When we understand that we don't have the power to 
fundamentally create the kind of life we want, we don't blame 
ourselves when life takes us in unexpected directions. As we 
do this, we maintain our self-esteem, and our circles of 
friends. 


Free Will Defenders' Positions, and the Film's Responses 

So far the film has dealt with what free will is, why humans don't 
have it, and why overcoming the notion matters. These next 
sequences reveal the convoluted arguments and flawed reasoning 
used by some academics in their attempt to salvage the notion. 

Having come to understand the scientific and logical flaws in 
the notion of a free will, and seen the many ways this belief 
harms us, let's now look at why some academic philosophers 
continue to defend the belief. 

According to the last major survey, published in 2009, only 13 
percent of philosophers defend free will because they believe 
that the law of cause and effect does not govern the universe. 
They refer to themselves as "libertarians," however, they 
shouldn't be confused with the political wing with this same 
name. Free Will libertarians reject causality, holding out the 



84 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


hope that in some as yet unexplained way our decision¬ 
making is freely willed. Some believe acausality, or quantum 
mechanics, can rescue the notion. They often describe our 
decisions as being probabilistic, failing to understand that 
although probabilities are used to predict quantum behavior, 
human decisions have causes, and it's their causal nature that 
prevents them from being freely willed. Sometimes they 
describe decisions as taking place randomly, however an 
arbitrary decision made without any method at all is not a 
freely willed decision. 

A larger group of philosophers who call themselves 
"compatibilists" claim to agree that our world is completely 
governed by the law of cause and effect. However, they often 
try to defend free will by redefining what free will and cause 
and effect actually mean. Emmanuel Kant mocked 
compatibilism as "a wretched subterfuge," and "petty word- 
jugglery" and the father of American psychology, William 
James, called it "a quagmire of evasion." For example, one 
compatibilist redefinition of free will says we have it because 
it is we who are deciding. So, does this mean that computers 
have a free will because it is they, and not humans, that do the 
calculating? This definition of free will is flawed. 

Some compatibilists try to redefine causality, claiming that 
somehow there is an "appropriate" other way by which cause 
and effect governs people that grants them a free will, or that 
we humans possess some special, unexplained, attribute that 
allows us to circumvent this fundamental law of nature. 

Other compatibilists correctly define free will as the ability to 
have done otherwise than what we did, and so we have a free 
will. They fail to realize that if the conditions surrounding our 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


85 


decision were exactly the same, we would always make the 
exact same choice, and could not, in fact, have chosen 
otherwise. 

Illusionism is a somewhat different perspective that fully 
accepts that the law of cause and effect governs all human 
decisions, and that free will is an illusion. Illusionists 
recognize that it is, indeed, unfair to blame the poor, the fat 
and criminals for choices and behavior over which they had 
absolutely no choice. But they nevertheless insist that such 
unfairness to these unlucky losers is more than offset by a 
greater overall happiness for everyone else. They generally 
also consider people far too unintelligent and immoral to be 
trusted with this important truth that free will is, in fact, an 
illusion. 


What Free Will Defenders Fear 

Having looked at how some academics misguidedly attempt to 
defend free will, these next sequences reveal to audiences the 
unfounded fears that have led these scholars to contrive such bizarre 
defenses of the notion. 

If the evidence against free will is so comprehensive and 
insurmountable, and if attempts to defend the notion are so 
flawed and ineffective, why do so many among the public and 
within academia continue to cling to such an irrational and 
harmful belief? 

One reason is that free will has been a central part of our 
cultural tradition for many years. Like the finally yielding. 



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profoundly mistaken, belief that men are naturally superior to 
women, for many generations, and from a very early age, 
many of us have been culturally conditioned to accept the free 
will belief. 

As we have seen, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and 
Islamic traditions have all challenged free will. But some 
people have been unable to evolve beyond free will belief 
because they fear that doing so may place them at risk of 
eternal suffering after their life here on Earth is over. Some 
religions preach that in order to gain entry into heaven, one 
must believe what they teach, like the idea of free will. This 
threat is taught to very young children. It then remains hidden 
at an unconscious level far below their everyday awareness, 
denying them much of their rational capacity to challenge and 
overcome the myth. 

Some people mistakenly fear that our abandoning the belief in 
free will amounts to our doing away with morality, and 
reward and punishment. They are afraid that without a belief 
in free will, society could not fairly or rationally hold 
accountable those who break society's rules and laws. This 
fear is ironic because holding individuals fundamentally 
morally responsible for what is in no way up to them, as free 
will demands, is exceedingly immoral. And these people 
ignore the fact that, as our modern psychiatry has so 
effectively demonstrated, an unfree will-based morality is not 
only more kind and intelligent, it is also more effective at 
motivating positive, healthy and lawful behavior. 

Some of us are unable to let go of the belief in free will 
because it satisfies our egos. Some of us have done very well 
in life, and maintain a free will belief-based air superiority 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


87 


over the less fortunate. "I, of my own free will, made myself 
so great," proclaim these achievers who are often found in 
academia, business and government. What they fail to 
appreciate is that overcoming the belief in free will does not 
pose a great threat to their professional and social position, 
which is largely based on their value to society. In fact, by 
encouraging them to be less snobbish and more modest, 
overcoming free will belief would probably make these highly 
successful individuals far more likable to those who are less 
successful. 

On a deeper level, some people fear that their lives would 
hold no meaning if they came to acknowledge that they don't 
actually have a free will, and that all of what they do is the 
inevitable result of a causal chain that regresses back to at 
least the Big Bang. But are we to then conclude that great 
scientists like Darwin, Freud and Einstein who have rejected 
free will found no meaning in their lives? Of course not. And 
are we to now wonder whether being in love should hold any 
meaning for us, considering that this most cherished of all 
blessings is well understood by us all to come on its own, in 
no way being freely willed. Indeed, for those of us who value 
truth, overcoming this harmful, nearly ubiquitous, belief in 
free will would very likely usher in a new age that would hold 
far more meaning for us all. In fact, just by watching this film, 
you are playing a major role in bringing about this new age, 
and can enjoy deep meaning from taking part in leading what 
might be the greatest of all revolutions in human thinking. 

Of course, many hold on to the belief in free will because they 
are genuinely confused about what the term means. For 
example, they confuse free will with freedom of speech and 
with freedom of religion. They fail to appreciate the huge 



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difference between these other kinds of freedoms and the 
mistaken idea that we humans can decide and act 
independently of factors and influences that lie outside of our 
fundamental control. 

One way to appreciate the deeper meaning and value we gain 
by evolving beyond free will belief should resonate especially 
well with those among us who believe in God or a higher 
power. Imagine yourself going through each day doing 
exactly what you want to do. This is actually how you now 
see yourself and your life if you believe in free will. Now 
imagine yourself overcoming this mistaken belief, and 
knowing that each day you are doing exactly what God has 
willed, or commanded, you to do. Under this perspective, you 
become fully and strongly aware that you are manifesting 
God's will with everything you do every day. Now ask 
yourself, which of these two ways of seeing your daily activity 
and relation to God seems more meaningful to you? 

Ultimately, there is a world of meaning and joy that we can 
experience in life that does not at all depend on a belief in free 
will. If we find meaning in a more intelligent, compassionate, 
and happy world, we will see the value of our all finally 
evolving beyond free will belief. 


Why Fears about Overcoming Free Will Belief are 
Unfounded 

Having presented the irrational fears that guide some academics to 
defend free will, these next sequences show why such fears are both 
counter-productive and unfounded. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


89 


Because we have no choice but to want to maximize our 
happiness, both as individuals and as a global society, we will 
not interpret this revolutionary new awareness that we lack a 
free will in any way that would deny us meaning, order, or 
joy. 

The fears many have about our world outgrowing free will 
belief are simply unfounded. It is, in fact, because we do not 
have a free will, and because we are biologically and 
psychologically programmed to seek pleasure and avoid pain, 
and it is because we are programmed to respond to reward 
and punishment, that we can rest assured that as we evolve 
beyond free will belief, our rules and laws will not only 
survive, they will become far more fair and effective. 

Consider how we raise young children. We don't ascribe free 
will to a toddler who is not yet intellectually mature enough 
to morally understand what he does, yet we effectively mould 
that child's behavior in positive ways through reward and 
punishment. 

Few of us would ever blame a person for succumbing to 
anxiety or depression or to any of a host of other psychiatric 
conditions, yet treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy 
are highly effective at instilling new attitudes and behaviors in 
that person. Psychotherapy substantially alleviates their 
psychiatric symptoms, and this happens without therapists 
ever needing to invoke, or rely on, a belief in free will. 

Some of us fear that without free will belief, we will lose our 
desire and motivation to improve our lives and become better 
people. But anyone who has ever tried to adopt a passive 
attitude toward life, doing nothing more than simply waiting 



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for good things to happen, very quickly learns that, free will 
belief or not, when nothing is ventured, nothing is gained. As 
we evolve beyond our belief in free will, we will pragmatically 
maintain the understanding that because all of our actions are 
effects that have causes, we must act better to become better. 


The Social and Economic Impact of Our Belief in Free Will 

Having shown how free will belief interferes with our personal 
relations and well-being, the film now turns to how the illusion 
harms our societal institutions like our religions, and our economic 
and criminal justice systems. 

We have seen the harm free will belief causes our personal 
relationships, and how overcoming it can create more 
harmonious interactions. But the harm caused by the belief, 
and the benefits of moving beyond it, extend to virtually every 
major institution of our global society. Our belief in free will 
amplifies hateful and divisive religious attitudes, and leads to 
unjust and less effective criminal justice systems. It also 
perpetuates the extreme poverty that grievously afflicts over 
one billion humans, as it fosters geo-political instability and 
creates vast breeding grounds for terrorist organizations. 

Free will belief, with the inevitable conflict it encourages, also 
fuels the ever-increasing violence that is now a mainstay 
across all mass media, from newspapers to books to television 
shows, movies and video games. 

Our belief in free will erodes the integrity of our world's 
educational systems, as they tacitly condone a myth that is as 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


91 


archaic and unscientific as the idea of a flat Earth. 

Our free will belief provokes vengeance and revenge. It keeps 
us all aggressively blaming each other, and in constant fear 
that we ourselves will become targets of this pervasive 
hostility. It causes self-blame and contempt, and the anxiety 
and depression that follow. Our hyper-vigilant finger¬ 
pointing also burdens us with massive productivity and 
health care-related losses each year. 

Our belief in free will undermines equality, compassion, 
peace, harmony and happiness at all levels of society, and 
across our global institutions. 

To better understand the great harm free will belief causes our 
global community, let's look at the problem in greater detail, 
and contrast today's world with the happier, more peaceful 
and prosperous one that we can create as we evolve beyond 
our belief in free will. 


[Religion] 

We can see some of the profound suffering free will belief has 
created through our religious institutions by going back a few 
thousand years to the writings of the Jewish prophet Samuel. 
Voicing what he declared was God's commandment, in 1 
Samuel 15:1-3, Samuel rallied the ancient Israelites to kill 
every man, woman and child among the Amalekite people. 

This free will belief-based blaming and horrific punishing of 
entire populations has been repeated countless times 
throughout history like seen in the Crusades, the Spanish 



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Inquisition, and the Salem Witch Trials. Today, in the Middle 
East, free will belief adds fuel to the blaming and counter- 
blaming between religions and sects of the region, intensifying 
the cruelty of ongoing atrocities. 

The threat of eternal suffering in hell, almost always requiring 
a belief in free will, keeps entire populations in fearful 
submission to religious authority. Ironically, today, the belief 
in free will has become more of a curse than a blessing for 
dwindling congregations world-wide. As more and more 
young people reject the threat of eternal hell that free will 
justifies, they depart in droves from religious organizations 
that promote the belief. 

Religion actually also serves humanity in profoundly 
important ways, notably as one of our few remaining 
institutions that create genuine communities. And whereas 
science is amoral, education often sidesteps morality, and our 
world's criminal justice systems teach morals only through 
punishment and the threat of punishment, religion is unique 
in our world as an institution that continually strives to help 
humanity understand the difference between right and 
wrong. 

While often far too slowly, religions do evolve. Recanting the 
notion of free will would represent a major global religious 
reformation that would help us better achieve our common 
religious goals of unity, justice, peace, harmony and 
happiness. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 93 

[Criminal Justice] 

Our world's criminal justice systems are also made far less 
effective and less fair by the belief in free will. Two hundred 
years ago in America, there were penitentiaries that helped 
convicts achieve moral penitence, and reformatories that 
helped them reform their behavior. This compassionate 
model, reflecting the truth that criminals turn to crime for 
reasons far beyond their personal control, has since given way 
to a brutally punitive model that uses free will belief to justify 
vengeful wrath. Justice today is far more about exacting eye- 
for-an-eye punishment than about reforming prisoners, and 
keeping society safe. 

Considering criminals to be evil, as the doctrine of free will 
demands, makes reform efforts far more difficult, and far 
more likely to fail. As police officers, attorneys, judges, news 
organizations and the general public see individuals who 
commit crimes as voluntarily evil, this label becomes their 
self-identity. It then becomes far more difficult for these 
criminals to see that just as there were powerful causes behind 
why they turned to crime, there are equally powerful causes 
that can help them reform, and return to society. 

And when we consider how often crimes are motivated by the 
free will belief-based blaming of others, and the resulting 
desire to exact personal revenge on those we believe deserve 
to be punished, we can appreciate the full extent of the harm 
the belief causes, and the positive changes that are possible as 
we evolve beyond it. 


In our criminal justice system, moving beyond free will belief 
will help us all better understand that while we as a society 



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cannot allow unlawful activity to go unpunished, we can 
certainly address the personal and societal causes that lead to 
those unfortunate actions. As this happens, persons convicted 
of crimes will begin to understand that although they fell prey 
to a fate that was unkind not only to their victims, but to them 
as well, through new intervening causes aimed at 
rehabilitation and reform, they can pursue new paths toward 
a much brighter future. 

Although free will believers claim that retributive justice is 
necessary to our criminal justice system, the evidence shows 
that rehabilitation and reform are actually far more effective at 
lowering the risk that released convicts will become repeat 
offenders. 

To a great extent, our actions are governed by how we see 
ourselves. We can help criminals see themselves as not being 
irredeemably evil, and in many ways quite similar to those of 
us who were just luckier to have been genetically and 
culturally conditioned to be law-abiding, citizens. We can help 
these individuals assume a more positive self-image, and help 
them adopt and express the beliefs, attitudes and actions of 
good people. 

By abandoning free will belief, and enlisting the help of 
criminals in defeating the societal influences and other factors 
that lead them to break the law, we can expect far greater 
success in creating a much safer world with far less crime. 


[Poverty and Terrorism] 

Free will belief also causes us to treat the poor unfairly. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


95 


Because we don't choose our genes or our experiences, many 
of us become poor not fundamentally because of bad freely- 
willed choices, but because of biological and environmental 
bad luck. Those of us who succeed do so not fundamentally 
because of good freely willed choices, but rather because of 
our fortunate genes and upbringing. 

Most of the world's rich want to act morally and 
compassionately toward the world's poor, but because their 
judgment is distorted by the mistaken belief that the poor 
freely chose the failings that caused them to be poor, they hold 
them fundamentally responsible for these failings. As a result, 
the rich become far more callous and cruel toward the poor, 
refusing to help them because, they claim, the poor deserve 
their poverty. In this way, our belief in free will, with the 
blame and indifference it encourages, destroys countless lives. 

As we acknowledge that free will is an illusion, we can better 
accept that global poverty arises completely from genetic and 
environmental bad luck that can in no way be blamed on the 
poor. 

Some of us fear that as the mistaken free will-based rationale 
for blaming the poor evaporates, the economic incentives that 
fuel economic progress will also be endangered. However, it 
is actually because we don't have a free will and are 
programmed to respond positively to rewards and 
punishments that we can expect our economic markets to 
continue rewarding individuals for their initiative and 
industry, sustaining global economic progress. 



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[Mass Media] 

Free will belief also whets our ever-growing appetite for more 
and more violence as the media presents an unending array of 
villains who, because of their freely willed evil, must be 
confronted, and punished. Few of us, however, escape playing 
the role of villain at times in our own lives, and the way we 
treat each other in fiction often instructs and molds how we 
treat each other in the real world. 

Were the media to present heroes and villains acting as they 
do not because of a free will, but because the hand of fate 
made them act that way, we in the real world would find 
ourselves treating each other with far more kindness and 
understanding. 


[Education] 

Our educational systems are also an interesting case because 
they actually present a wealth of evidence that we humans do 
not have a free will. In biology, they teach that human 
behavior is the product of nature and nurture, and in 
psychology, they teach that our unconscious is involved in all 
of our decision making. Our physics courses teach that our 
everyday world is governed by the law of cause and effect, 
and that the sub-atomic world is thought by some to be 
governed by randomness. 

But what they don't teach is that, as we've already seen, 
human behavior that is determined by nature and nurture, or 
with the participation of our unconscious mind, or that is 
governed by the law of cause and effect, or comes about 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


97 


because of Lincaused events, can in no logical or scientific 
sense be considered freely willed. 

While they clearly succeed in many other ways, when they 
either ignore the free will issue altogether or present it as a 
still-unresolved question, our educational systems fail us. 
They lead students to assume that what we humans do is 
really up to us when the fact is that absolutely nothing we do 
is in any way truly up to us, and that is a significant failure. 


[Depression and Anxiety] 

The belief in free will also harms the health and well-being of 
individuals in hidden ways that ultimately cost us huge sums 
in lost productivity and greater health care expenditures. In 
the United States, for example, antidepressants are among the 
most prescribed medications, while anxiety disorders affect 
almost 20 percent of the population. 

Logically, it is impossible to fairly blame oneself or another for 
anything without relying on the mistaken idea that we 
humans have a free will. Some psychiatric theories see 
depression as anger turned inward, and this anger is a form of 
free will belief-based self-punishment. As today's national 
economies face daunting challenges, and financial success 
becomes harder to achieve, many people use their belief in 
free will to blame themselves for their failure. This mistaken 
self-blame erodes their self-esteem, and leads to depression 
for some, and far less happiness for many more. 

Free will belief also fuels our anxiety, as we fear retribution by 
others for our holding them fundamentally responsible, and 



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we become hyper-vigilant in defending ourselves. In America 
alone, billions of dollars are spent each year on anti-anxiety 
medications to treat this widespread, often free will belief- 
based, fearfulness. 


[Divorce] 

We also cannot ignore the destructive impact of free will belief 
on our marriages, as it leads us to engage in hostile, distractive 
blame and counter-blame. In the U.S., about 50 percent of first 
marriages end in divorce, and comparable rates are now being 
seen throughout much of the rest of the world. 

As we evolve beyond our belief in free will, married couples 
will still face many personal disagreements. But by shifting to 
the more civil, non-judgmental and effective method of 
resolving conflicts that comes from rejecting free will, these 
couples can expect far greater success in overcoming these 
conflicts, and staying together. 


[LGBT] 

Homosexual, bi-sexual and transgender individuals are also 
among those whose lives are made more difficult to the extent 
that the public and governments view homosexual identities 
and behavior as being freely willed. Because of this blaming, 
LGBT individuals are sometimes denied employment 
opportunities, hospital visitation rights, and the right to 
marry. Understanding that gender roles are determined by 
nature and nurture, and are not freely willed, can help us 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


99 


better address this discrimination. 

Because society as a whole is as much ruled by the desire to 
maximize happiness as are the individuals who make up 
society, we can expect that as our world evolves beyond free 
will belief, our global institutions like religion and education 
will use this knowledge to design happier, fairer and more 
productive societies. Such movement toward the greater good 
has been a longstanding historical trend, and we can expect 
this progress to continue well into the future. 

Because free will is an immoral, unfounded idea that causes so 
much unnecessary suffering and conflict, our movement away 
from the belief advances our most noble shared aspirations. 
As we did by ending slavery and child labor, in truth we have 
nothing to lose and much to gain by finally relegating the 
belief in free will to the dustbin of history. As we do, we will 
build a far more equal, compassionate, happy and productive 
world. 


Review of Major Themes 

The following sequences bring together everything covered so far in 
order to help audiences better appreciate the full picture of what 
evolving beyond free will belief is about, and to reinforce the film's 
main messages. 

We've covered a lot of ground so far. We've reviewed the past 
revolutions in human thinking, and discovered that both in 
terms of its scientific significance and its usefulness to our 
world, evolving beyond our belief in free will holds a unique 



100 


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position among them as very probably the greatest. 

We've defined free will logically, scientifically, religiously and 
morally in order to arrive at a very clear understanding that 
the free will, or ability to have done otherwise, that St. 
Augustine coined, and that Darwin, Freud and Einstein each 
rejected, is an illusion. 

We've explored the harm this belief causes our relationship to 
ourselves and to those we love and share our lives with. 

We've discovered through the test of our personal experiences 
that what we think and do is not truly up to us, and we've 
learned how both determinism and indeterminism, both 
causality and acausality, make human free will categorically 
impossible. 

We've also seen how free will is nothing but an illusion in 
other ways, like by understanding that it is our genetics and 
environment that make us who we are, and determine what 
we do. 

We've reviewed a few of the many experiments in psychology 
that show how decisions we ordinarily attribute to a conscious 
free will are actually made by our unconscious mind. We've 
seen how Benjamin Libet's pioneering 1983 neurological 
experiment and more technically advanced replications 
conducted since then show that unconscious brain processes 
have already initiated our decision-making long before we 
become conscious of those decisions. 

We reviewed our religious history and traditions, and 
discovered that major sects within Hinduism, Judaism, 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


101 


Christianity, Buddhism and Islam have concluded that what 
we humans do is in the hands of an all-powerful and all¬ 
knowing God. 

We've seen in detail how moving from free will belief to a 
causal, universal, God's will perspective helps us blame 
ourselves and others less, and overcome guilt, low self esteem 
and arrogance. 

We've investigated attempts to defend free will, like by using 
classic straw-man arguments to redefine the term, and have 
understood why they fail. We've also discovered that many 
modern scientists and philosophers actually side with Darwin, 
Freud and Einstein in rejecting free will, when correctly 
defined as the ability to have done otherwise. 

We've looked at the fears some of us harbor about our world 
evolving beyond free will belief, and exposed them as 
misguided and unfounded. 

And, we've shed light on the widespread damage free will 
belief causes within our societal institutions. We've seen how 
overcoming the belief can help us create a far better world. 


The Benefits of a Post-Free Will World 

It's important that audiences leave the theater feeling that their 
evolving beyond the illusion of free will has given them much more 
than it has taken from them. It's also important to assure them that 
this revolutionary process will move forward at a pace that our social 
institutions and personal psychologies can safely and comfortably 



102 


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accommodate to. 

Now that we understand how free will belief harms not only 
our personal relationships, but also our economic, criminal 
justice, educational and religious institutions, corrupting 
truth, morality and fairness, what can we expect as the central 
message of this film filters out to all levels of our global 
society? 

We can be sure that our world will not suddenly undergo any 
kind of dramatic and destabilizing culture shock. The 
institutions that make up our global society have been 
purposely designed for stability, and to protect the peace of 
mind and security that this stability provides us all. 

Make no mistake that the changes that will come about as our 
world awakens to the realization that free will is an illusion 
will positively transform our world perhaps more than any 
other revolutionary change to date. However, the full measure 
of this change will come about during the course of years and 
decades rather than days and months. 

It is one thing for our world to finally understand and 
acknowledge that free will does not exist, and another thing 
altogether for humanity to integrate and utilize this 
transformative truth in our personal lives, and throughout our 
world's institutions. 

We must all first very clearly understand and appreciate that 
not having a free will doesn't grant us license to do whatever 
we wish, and escape some consequences if we transgress our 
personal and societal morals and our laws. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


103 


We must also understand that not having a free will won't 
prevent us from growing as individuals, and from becoming 
more successful, healthy, happy, and virtuous. And it doesn't 
mean that we cannot grow as a human civilization, and 
become more unified, peaceful, equal and evolved. 

Actually, to the extent we do not move beyond our mistaken 
and harmful belief that we have a free will, our evolution as a 
civilization will be severely constrained, and perhaps 
increasingly threatened, by the deeply unjust and immoral 
ethical system that our belief in free will perpetuates. 

This revolutionary truth about the nature of human action will 
be disseminated through novels, dramatic films, TV shows, 
public discussions and the Internet. It will be taught at our 
colleges and universities, and eventually in our high schools, 
middle schools, and elementary schools. 

Abandoning the myth of free will won't be regretted because 
the downsides to the belief are everywhere, and the upsides to 
abandoning it are vast. 

For decades the congregations of churches and synagogues 
have been dwindling, as more and more members resist 
religious organizations that champion the eternal punishment 
in hell that free will belief promotes. By abandoning our belief 
in free will, religious congregations can begin to win back the 
millions of worshipers who were driven away by the untruth, 
mean-spiritedness and indifference of that belief. 

It would not be surprising if our world's religions were to 
experience a global ecumenical reformation, rejecting the 
outdated notion of a free will in favor of the accurate 



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understanding that God, through a sovereign will, makes all 
that happens happen, including every human thought, feeling 
and action. 

As our world comes to understand that free will is an illusion, 
and that blaming as we know it no longer makes sense, we 
can expect crimes prompted by revenge to diminish 
substantially, and we can expect suicides caused by self-blame 
to also become far less common. 

As disagreeing couples shift from blaming of each other to the 
far more civil and intelligent strategy of working together to 
understand their disagreements, we can expect our global 
divorce rate to decline. 

And as brothers and sisters stop blaming brothers and sisters, 
and friends stop blaming friends, for what is fundamentally 
not under anyone's freely willed control, we can expect the 
alienation and social isolation that plagues us today to 
dramatically lessen, as everyone becomes far less judgmental, 
and far more accepting of each other. 

Our world's jails and prisons will also house fewer inmates as 
criminal justice systems shift from the cruel and ineffective 
free will belief-based punitive punishment model to the far 
more humane and successful prevention, reform and 
rehabilitation model founded on the correct and 
compassionate understanding that our world's criminals are, 
in the truest sense, very unfortunate individuals. Societies can 
then much more effectively help them become fortunate and 
law-abiding again. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


105 


Throughout our global community of nations, we can expect 
the rich to stop blaming the poor for being poor, and to stop 
using this mistaken free will belief-based indictment as an 
excuse for refusing to come to their aid. We can expect that 
our world will use this post-free will belief perspective to 
make great strides toward finally ending poverty on the 
planet. 

It may take years for us to effectively integrate this perspective 
throughout our world's institutions. And it may take decades 
before we can fully integrate this more correct understanding 
into how we personally interact with our world, and how we 
routinely negotiate our relationships. But as we together take 
on this greatest of all revolutions in human thinking, not only 
will we be vastly improving our present world, we will be 
giving our children, grandchildren and many future 
generations to come the gift of a more wonderful new world. 


Finale 

The film's finale again invites the audience, as individuals, to take a 
leading role in moving this greatest of all revolutions in human 
thinking on to its next stages. These sequences can also serve as an 
important component of the film's marketing campaign. 

We now understand why John Searle said that for our world 
to understand and accept that free will is an illusion would 
"be a bigger revolution in our thinking than Einstein, or 
Copernicus, or Newton, or Galileo or Darwin," and how it 
would "alter our whole conception of our relation with the 
universe." 



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GEORGE ORTEGA 


We can see why [1 st academic] said [quote] and why [2 nd 
academic] said [quote]. [Statements by leading academics 
from previous sequences.] 

We can now see how both causality and acausality render free 
will impossible, and why all of our decisions are actually 
made by our unconscious mind. We've also discovered that, 
upon closer inspection, it doesn't even really appear that we 
make free choices. We've seen that there is, in fact, absolutely 
no evidence supporting the notion of a human free will. And 
we now know that the logic and evidence that prohibits free 
will is so basic and powerful that those of us without high 
school and college degrees can easily understand, and take an 
active role in leading, this great shift in human consciousness. 

We've discovered that not only can we vastly enhance the 
quality of our personal lives by overcoming our belief in free 
will, we can also reform, revitalize, and enhance our global 
institutions like our religions and our legal and economic 
systems. In essence, we've discovered that by overcoming free 
will belief, we can create a new, more wonderful, world. 

And we've learned that, unlike the earlier world-changing 
revolutions in thinking that were launched and led by 
scientists, this greatest of all revolutions in thinking is being 
led by ordinary people like you here in the audience right 
now. 

So, let's now spend a few minutes exploring exactly how all of 
you, working alongside our world's academic, political, 
religious and media institutions, can play a major role in 
spreading this new awareness of the true nature of human 
will throughout the entire world. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


107 


First, if you now strongly and clearly understand that free will 
is impossible, and why our all acknowledging this truth is a 
very important matter, take it upon yourself to explain to your 
family and friends and co-workers exactly why this is so. As 
psychologist Howard Gardner and others have shown, there 
are different kinds of intelligences like mathematical, artistic, 
emotional, moral, athletic, and musical intelligence. If you 
happen to be very good at thinking objectively and critically, 
our world needs you to lead the way on this. 

If you're a writer, help readers understand this truth through 
logical explanations, and make it come to life for them 
through dramatic venues like novels, movies, plays and 
television series. 

If you're a political activist, use this new knowledge about the 
nature of our human will to help our world's leaders better 
understand the need to put an end to free will belief-based 
social and economic inequalities. Help them better understand 
how by overcoming free will belief we can create a planet of 
far more joy and far less suffering for everyone. 

If you're a voter, make sure the candidates you support are 
not making important political decisions based on the 
mistaken and harmful belief in free will. If your 
representatives in government believe in free will, meet with 
them and their staff in order to help them reach a correct 
understanding of the nature of human will. If elections are 
approaching, pressure the candidates to state their position, 
and to voice what they plan to do to help the public 
understand our need to evolve beyond free will belief. 



108 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


If you're an academic, especially within the fields of 
psychology, sociology, economics, political science, law, 
neuroscience, physics, religion or philosophy, this issue could 
not be more ripe for extensive and detailed exploration. What 
changes should we make to our world's economic, legal and 
religious institutions that would make them more fair and 
effective? How soon can we incorporate this revolutionary 
truth of free will being an illusion into the curriculums of 
colleges and high schools throughout the world? 

Imagine a fictional television series that depicts the everyday 
lives of a community that long ago evolved beyond free will 
belief, or a dramatic series that depicts a community in the 
process of initiating and navigating this giant leap forward. If 
you watch television, write your favorite networks, and ask 
them to produce new non-fictional and fictional movies, 
specials and series designed to, in entertaining ways, help us 
all better understand why free will is an illusion, and how our 
world knowing this truth helps us all. 

And if you're religious, understand that free will belief is quite 
harmful to your religion's highest ideals. Call upon your 
clerics to revitalize and reform your religion's theology by 
acknowledging and teaching an important truth that can bring 
back to the flock many followers who over these last decades 
left your congregations. 

In 1514, with his publication of Commentariolus L Nicolaus 
Copernicus humbled us all with his discovery that we here on 
Earth are not at the center of everything. And this new 
understanding of our true place within the heavens better 
taught us who we are. 



FREE WILL: MOVING BEYOND THE ILLUSION 


109 


173 years later with his 1687 publication of Principia 
Mathematical Sir Isaac Newton gave our world an entirely 
new, and vastly more accurate system for understanding the 
nature and motion of what makes up our universe. 

172 years later, with his 1859 publication of On the Origin of 
Species, Charles Darwin helped us understand that we humans 
did not simply emerge on Earth fully formed as we appear 
today. He taught us that we, along with every other species, 
all evolved from earlier life forms that had their origin about 
four and a half billion years ago. 

About a half century later, through a series of papers 
published in the early 1900s, Albert Einstein astonished our 
world by teaching us that time and space are actually one 
entity, and that matter and energy are simply different 
manifestations of a more fundamental reality. 

Also at the turn of the twentieth century, Sigmund Freud 
revealed to us that beneath the self that we are consciously 
aware of lies a vastly more expansive, complex, and 
fundamental part of us that is completely unconscious. With 
this knowledge he gave our world a powerful new tool for 
understanding who we are, why we are the way we are, and 
why we do what we do. 

Now, about a century later, as we watch this film, we're both 
witnessing and launching an even greater revolution in 
human thinking - a collective human awakening to the world¬ 
changing reality that all that happens happens because the 
laws of nature, or God, make it happen. As we watch this film, 
we're both witnessing and leading the discovery that all that 
happens, and all that we humans think, feel, say and do. 



110 


GEORGE ORTEGA 


manifests the will of the being that gave rise to the universe 
that gave rise to us all. 

[FADE OUT]